• Palestinians demand Israel give news of those detained during operations in Gaza
• UN, White House welcome extension in humanitarian pause

CAIRO: Mediator Qatar said on Monday that a truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza had been extended by two days, while Palestinian authorities have demanded the Israeli military release information about who have been detained from Gaza during its assault on the territory.

“An agreement has been rea­ched to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip,” a Qatari foreign ministry spokesperson said in a post on social media platform X.

There was no immediate comment from Israel, but the White House welcomed the extension of the humanitarian pause in Gaza.

Hamas also said it had agreed to a two-day extension to the truce with Qatar and Egypt, which have been facilitating indirect negotiations between the two sides.

“An agreement has been reached with the brothers in Qatar and Egypt to extend the temporary humanitarian truce by two more days, with the same conditions as in the previous truce,” an official said in a phone call with Reuters.

None of the announcements spe­­c­ified how many prisoners would be released, but earlier the head of Egypt’s State Information Service, Diaa Rashwan, had said the deal being negotiated would include the release of 20 Israeli pri­soners. In exchange 60 Palesti­nian prisoners held in Israeli jails would be freed, he said.

The initial four-day truce was due to end on Monday night.

With the release of 11 Israeli prisoners expected on Monday, negotiations remain ongoing for the release of 33 Palestinians, Rashwan added.

It’s a “glimpse of hope and humanity” in the middle of the darkness and I strongly hope that these will enable us to increase even “more the humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza that is suffering so much,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

“As the Islamic Republic of Iran, we want and expect... that the crimes of the Zionist regime against the Palestinian people will be stopped completely,” said Nasser Kanani, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman.

The Qatari announcement came after US President Joe Biden, top EU envoy Josep Borrell and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg all joined a global chorus urging the parties to extend their temporary break in Israeli bombardment.

Borrell called for the pause to be prolonged “to make it sustainable and long lasting while working for a political solution.” Borrell made the comments during a news conference held in Barcelona during the Union for the Mediter­ranean summit.

In a same event, Palestinian Foreign Minister al-Maliki said if truce was not extended, the death toll would double because Gaza’s population was now concentrated in the south of the strip.

Jordan’s foreign minister said that “Some among us are still refusing to call for a ceasefire... We dem­and it be implemented immediately.” “I call for an extension of the pause. This would allow for much needed relief to the people of Gaza”, Stoltenberg said.

Detainees

The head of the Palestinian Authority’s commission for prisoners, Qaddura Fares, said on Sunday that Israeli officials had told him at one point their side had made 105 arrests.

But he said Israel had not announced the number publicly and there was “no detail about what has become of these people”. “We fear they may have been killed after being detained and interrogated,” he told AFP.

They demanded the Israel to release information about more than 100 people thought to have been detained.

The UN humanitarian affairs office OCHA said in a report that Israeli forces had detained people walking to southern Gaza from the north on the Salah al-Din road during the Israeli operations and a truce that came into force on November 24.

Red Cross medical worker Ramadan Hossu said in a video released by his organisation that Israeli forces strip-searched and handcuffed him after detaining him on the road.

One displaced Gaza resident, Sahar Awwad, told AFP that Israeli soldiers detained her son Mohammed as he tried to leave southern Gaza on November 12.

“He was freed after nine days” after “undergoing torture,” Awwad said.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2023

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