Gaza Truce Extended a Day 11/30 06:46

Gaza Truce Extended a Day     11/30 06:46

   Israel and Hamas agreed at the last minute Thursday to extend their 
cease-fire in Gaza by another day. But any further renewal of the deal that has 
seen dozens of hostages and prisoners released could prove more challenging 
since Hamas is expected to demand greater concessions for many of the remaining 

   JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel and Hamas agreed at the last minute Thursday to 
extend their cease-fire in Gaza by another day. But any further renewal of the 
deal that has seen dozens of hostages and prisoners released could prove more 
challenging since Hamas is expected to demand greater concessions for many of 
the remaining captives.

   As word of the extension came, gunmen opened fire on people waiting for 
buses along a main highway entering Jerusalem, killing at least three people 
and wounding several others, according to police.

   The two attackers, brothers from a Palestinian neighborhood in annexed east 
Jerusalem, were killed. Hamas said they were members of its armed wing and 
celebrated the assault, but called it "a natural response" to Israel's actions 
in Gaza and elsewhere. It was unclear if the attack had been ordered by Hamas' 
leaders or if it would have an impact on the truce.

   International pressure has mounted for the cease-fire to continue as long as 
possible after nearly eight weeks of Israeli bombardment and a ground campaign 
in Gaza that have killed thousands of Palestinians, uprooted more than 
three-quarters of the population of 2.3 million and led to a humanitarian 

   U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on his third visit to the 
region since the start of the war, said "my heart goes out" to the victims of 
the Jerusalem attack. Blinken is expected to press for further extensions of 
the truce and the release of more hostages.

   "This process is producing results. It's important, and we hope that it can 
continue," he said.

   The talks appear to be growing tougher, however, with Hamas having already 
freed most of the women and children kidnapped during the deadly Oct. 7 attack 
on Israel that triggered the war. The militants are expected to make greater 
demands in return for freeing men and soldiers.

   Qatar, which has played a key role in mediating with Hamas, announced that 
the truce was being extended Thursday. In the past, Hamas has released at least 
10 Israeli hostages per day in exchange for Israel's release of at least 30 
Palestinian prisoners.

   The announcement followed a last-minute standoff, with Hamas saying Israel 
had rejected a proposed list that included seven living captives and the 
remains of three who the group said were killed in Israeli airstrikes. Israel 
later said Hamas submitted an improved list, but gave no details.

   Israel says it will maintain the truce until Hamas stops releasing captives, 
at which point it will resume military operations aimed at eliminating the 
group. The Biden administration has told Israel that it must operate with far 
greater precision if it expands the ground offensive to the south, where many 
Palestinians have sought refuge.


   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under intense pressure from 
families of the hostages to bring them home. But his far-right governing 
partners are also pushing him to continue the war until Hamas is destroyed, and 
could bolt his coalition if he is seen as making too many concessions.

   The initial truce -- which began Friday and has now been extended twice -- 
called for the release of women and children. Israeli officials say Gaza 
militants still hold around 30 women and children, who would all be released in 
a few days if the swaps continue at the current rate.

   It's not clear how many of the women might be soldiers. For soldiers and the 
men still in captivity, Hamas is expected to push for comparable releases of 
Palestinian men or prominent detainees, a deal Israel may resist.

   Israel says around 125 men are still held hostage, including several dozen 
soldiers. Thus far, Hamas has released some men -- mostly Thai laborers.

   An Israeli official involved in hostage negotiations said talks on a further 
extension for the release of civilian men and soldiers were still preliminary, 
and that a deal would not be considered until all the women and children are 
out. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing.

   So far, most Palestinians released have been teenagers accused of throwing 
stones and firebombs during confrontations with Israeli forces. Several were 
women convicted by Israeli military courts of attempting to attack soldiers. 
Palestinians have celebrated the release of people they see as having resisted 
Israel's decadeslong military occupation of lands they want for a future state.

   With Wednesday's releases, a total of 73 Israelis, including dual nationals, 
have been freed during the six-day truce, most of whom appear physically well 
but shaken. Another 24 hostages -- 23 Thais and one Filipino -- have also been 

   Before the cease-fire, Hamas released four hostages, and the Israeli army 
rescued one. Two others were found dead in Gaza. On Thursday, the military 
confirmed the death of Ofir Tzarfati, who was believed to be among the 
hostages, without providing any further details. Israeli media say the 
27-year-old attended a music festival where at least 360 people were killed and 
several others were kidnapped on Oct. 7.

   Hamas and other Palestinian militants killed over 1,200 people -- mostly 
civilians -- in their wide-ranging attack across southern Israel that day and 
captured around 240. Authorities have only ever provided approximate figures.

   Israel's bombardment and ground invasion in Gaza have killed more than 
13,300 Palestinians, roughly two-thirds of them women and minors, according to 
the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which does not differentiate between 
civilians and combatants.

   The toll is likely much higher, as officials have only sporadically updated 
the count since Nov. 11. The ministry says thousands more people are feared 
dead under the rubble.

   Israel says 77 of its soldiers have been killed in the ground offensive. It 
claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence.


   During the pause in fighting, Palestinians in Gaza have been consumed by the 
search for aid and horror at the extent of destruction.

   Residents described entire residential blocks as leveled in Gaza City and 
surrounding areas in the north. The smell of decomposing bodies trapped under 
collapsed buildings fills the air, said Mohmmed Mattar, a 29-year-old resident 
of the city who along with other volunteers searched for the dead.

   In the south, the truce has allowed more aid to be delivered from Egypt, up 
to 200 trucks a day. But humanitarian officials say it is not enough, given 
that most now depend on outside aid. Over 1 million displaced people have 
sought refuge in U.N.-run shelters, with many forced to sleep outside in cold, 
rainy weather because of overcrowding.

   At a distribution center in Rafah, large crowds line up daily for bags of 
flour but supplies run out quickly.

   "Every day, we come here," said one woman in line, Nawal Abu Namous. "We 
spend money on transportation to get here, just to go home with nothing."

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