Intensive talks under way to extend Israel-Hamas truce as deadline looms

Intensive talks are under way to secure a second extension to the truce in the Israel-Hamas war as the agreed pause in fighting nears expiration.

Negotiations were continuing on Wednesday over conditions to extend the truce as its end on Thursday morning approached. Talks, involving the two parties as well as the United States, Qatar and Egypt were focused on the length of the extension and exchange of captives.

The initial four-day truce began on Friday following intense mediation. Despite some minor clashes, it was then renewed for two further days.

In that time, Hamas has released 81 of the captives, mostly Israeli nationals, that it took hostage on October 7.

In exchange, Israel has released a total of 180 Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, many of whom have been kept in administrative detention for years without charge. At the same time, Israel has arrested almost as many Palestinians during the prisoner releases.

The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation reported that Israel is looking into another extension.

“It depends on the conduct of Hamas,” an Israeli political official was quoted as saying, adding that negotiations for a new agreement would be discussed by the political echelon soon.

Israel had previously said it was willing to extend the truce by one day for every 10 hostages freed by Hamas.

Ghazi Hamad, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, told Al Jazeera: “We are working hard and we are hopeful that we can extend the ceasefire for more days, until we reach the total and complete end. We are ready to release more hostages for the extension.”

“I hope that it can be implemented today,” he added.

Negotiations over the extension have been ongoing over the past two days.

On Tuesday, the heads of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israel’s Mossad met in Qatar to discuss the issues.

Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari said negotiators were seeking “a sustainable truce that will lead to further negotiations and eventually to an end … to this war”.

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