War in the Middle East: Gaza: Intensive talks about extending the ceasefire

Shortly before the end of the ceasefire in the Gaza war, there were intensive negotiations about an extension.

War in the Middle East: Gaza: Intensive talks about extending the ceasefire

Shortly before the end of the ceasefire in the Gaza war, there were intensive negotiations about an extension. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged to “do everything in our power to extend the pause.”

The Islamist Hamas says it is working hard on a possible extension, as a spokesman told the Al-Jazeera news channel. However, it is not yet clear whether the talks about extending the ceasefire would be successful. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in a statement that fighting would resume when "this phase of the return of our hostages is complete." He also reiterated that he wanted to stick to the war goal of destroying Hamas.

Hamas releases 16 hostages

Meanwhile, the Islamist Hamas released a total of 16 hostages. As in the previous days, there were ten Israelis, the Israeli army said. These include three Germans who also have Israeli passports, as well as a dual citizen each from the USA and the Netherlands, explained Majid al-Ansari, spokesman for the Qatari Foreign Ministry.

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) confirmed the information about the three Germans. In addition, four Thais and two Russian women were released a little earlier. The latter also have Israeli citizenship. Meanwhile, shortly before the end of the ceasefire in the Gaza war, there were intensive negotiations about an extension.

Baerbock thanked the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Egypt and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "While some families can breathe a sigh of relief today, at the same time many others continue to hold their breath and hope for the release of their loved ones. We are not letting up in our efforts to get all hostages to safety," she wrote on the X platform.

A ceasefire has been in effect since last Friday, during which hostages kidnapped to the Gaza Strip and Palestinian prisoners from Israel were exchanged. The break in fighting was recently extended by two days. This means that it would probably expire on Thursday morning without another extension. Meanwhile, several Palestinians died in the West Bank as part of an Israeli anti-terror operation.

Blinken: Continuation of the ceasefire is also in the interest of the Israelis

Blinken expressed his belief that continuing the ceasefire was also in the interest of the Israelis. “They are also concentrating intensely on bringing their people home,” said the American, referring to the Israeli hostages still being held in the Gaza Strip. According to his own statements, Blinken will be in Israel again this Thursday and will hold talks with the government there. It is his third visit since the conflict began.

Hamas: Ready to release more hostages

Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad told the Al Jazeera news channel that they were working "very hard" with the mediators Qatar and Egypt to reach a "compromise" and extend the ceasefire. The situation is complicated and constantly changing, but he is optimistic about a possible extension. "We are ready to free more hostages in exchange for an extension of the ceasefire" for more days.

According to the original agreement of the war opponents, the ceasefire could be extended to a maximum of ten days in order to enable the further release of hostages and Palestinian prisoners. A total of 97 hostages have been released since a ceasefire began on Friday. Of these, 73 were Israelis, 14 of whom also have German citizenship. In return, 180 Palestinian prisoners were released by Tuesday evening. Another 30 prisoners were to be released in the evening. Israel and the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas had agreed on this with the mediation of Qatar.

Steinmeier asks Qatar to further mediate the release of hostages

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked the Qatari leadership to make further efforts to release the German hostages from the hands of Hamas. "After this conversation, I am sure that Qatar will do everything it can to contribute to the release of the German hostages," said Steinmeier in Qatar after a meeting with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The emirate is one of the most important mediators between Israel and Hamas in the conflict.

UN chief: Number of dead children in the Gaza Strip during his term is unprecedented

UN Secretary-General António Guterres once again called for a permanent end to the fighting. "Intense negotiations are taking place to extend the ceasefire, which we very much welcome. But we believe that we need a real humanitarian ceasefire," Guterres said at the UN Security Council in New York. “In just a few weeks, Israeli military operations in Gaza have killed far more children than the total number of children killed by any party to the conflict in the years since my term as Secretary General,” Guterres said. Four out of five people in Gaza have been driven from their homes.

The Gaza War was triggered by the worst massacre in Israel's history, which terrorists from the Gaza Strip committed in Israel near the border on October 7th. More than 1,200 people were killed. Around 240 hostages were taken to Gaza, including several Germans. Israel responded with massive airstrikes and a blockade of the Gaza Strip. In late October his forces began a ground offensive. According to Hamas, almost 15,000 people were killed and more than 36,000 injured. The numbers cannot currently be independently verified.

Hamas: Two Russian hostages handed over to Red Cross

Hamas said it handed over two Russian hostages to the Red Cross. The two abducted people were released thanks to efforts by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hamas said. The release of the two women and the four Thais is not part of the agreement to exchange Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners.

After Hamas's attack on Israel, Russia particularly criticized the USA and declared its attempt to find a solution to the Middle East conflict a failure. The Kremlin offered itself as a mediator who, on the one hand, had traditionally good relations with the Arab world, but was also close to Tel Aviv due to the large number of Israelis with a Russian past.

Israel: Senior Islamic Jihad commander killed in Jenin

While the guns were silent in Gaza, Israel said it carried out an anti-terror operation in the West Bank in which an Islamic Jihad commander was killed. Soldiers shelled a building in the northern West Bank city of Jenin where Mohammed Subeidi and other extremists were staying, the military said. According to Palestinian information, two boys aged eight and 15 were also killed by the Israeli military in Jenin. An Israeli army spokesman said they were checking the reports.