Israel-hamas truce extended for two more days
Hamas releases 11 more hostages
TIA GOLDENBERG, JACK JEFFERY and SAMY MAGDY
Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their ceasefire for two more days past Monday, the Qatari government said, bringing the prospect of a longer halt to their deadliest and most destructive war and further exchanges of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.
The announcement, made by Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majid Al Ansary in a post on X, came on the final day of the original four-day truce. After an hours-long delay, Hamas released 11 Israelis on Monday.
Qatar, along with the United States and Egypt, has been the key mediator in the conflict.
Israel has said it would extend the ceasefire by one day for every 10 additional hostages released. After the Qatari announcement, Hamas confirmed it had agreed to a two-day extension “under the same terms.”
But Israel says it remains committed to crushing Hamas's military capabilities and ending its 16year rule over Gaza after its Oct. 7 attack into southern Israel.
That would likely mean expanding a ground offensive from devastated northern Gaza to the south, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have crammed into
United Nations shelters, and where dire conditions persist despite the increased delivery of aid under the truce.
Israel will resume its operations with “full force” as soon as the current deal expires if Hamas does not agree to further hostage releases, with the goal of eliminating the terror group and freeing the rest of the captives, government spokesperson Eylon Levy told reporters on Monday.
Of the roughly 240 hostages captured by Hamas on Oct. 7, 62 have been released as of Monday, one was freed by Israeli forces and two were found dead inside Gaza.
Most hostages appeared to be physically well, but 84-year-old Elma Avraham was airlifted to Israel's Soroka Medical Center in life-threatening condition because of inadequate care, the hospital said.
Avraham's daughter, Tali Amano, said her mother was “hours from death” when she was brought to the hospital. Avraham is currently sedated and has a breathing tube,
“We can get all hostages back home. We have to keep pushing,” two relatives of Abigail Edan, a four-year-old girl and dual Israeli-american citizen who was released Sunday, said in a statement.
Hamas and other terrorists could still be holding up to 175 hostages, enough to potentially extend the ceasefire for two and a half weeks. But those include a number of soldiers, and Hamas is likely to make much greater demands for their release.
The Palestinian prisoners released were mostly teenagers accused of throwing stones and firebombs during confrontations with Israeli forces, or of less-serious offences.
In Israel on Monday, Elon Musk met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The pair toured the Kfar Azza kibbutz, one of the Jewish communities attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7.
Musk was shown a video documenting some of the atrocities that took place, according to a conversation between the two men broadcast afterward on X. Musk said it was jarring to visit the site and troubling to see the joy on the faces of Hamas terrorists as they killed innocent people.
“It's one thing obviously if civilians die accidentally, but it's another thing to revel in the joy of killing civilians ... That's evil,” Musk said.
Musk also rebuffed arguments
that Israel has disproportionately killed civilians in Gaza, saying the actions of Hamas fighters were intentional. “There is an important difference here, which is Israel tries to avoid killing civilians,” Musk said.
The trip comes as Musk faces widespread criticism for his decision to loosen content moderation on X after he purchased the platform last year. Since the Hamas attack, antisemitic content has surged more than 900 per cent on the platform, The Washington Post reported.
Disinformation specialists have accused Musk of playing a uniquely potent role by easing moderation standards and amplifying antisemitic tropes.
A number of major advertisers fled the platform after their ads appeared next to pro-nazi posts.
Musk did not directly address those allegations on Monday, but he said there is a need to “stop the propaganda that is convincing people to engage in murder.” The terrorists must be “neutralized,” he added. Later, Musk met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who decried “a flood of antisemitism and hatred of the Jewish people” and pointed to Musk's “crucial role” in preventing antisemitic content from spreading online.
Referring to his meeting with Netanyahu, Musk called for three things to happen in Gaza: Those who “insist on murdering civilians” must be killed; education must be overhauled to prevent a new generation of killers from taking hold; and prosperity must be developed. Watching Hamas kill innocents illustrated how propaganda can incite people to violence, Musk said.
We can get all hostages back home. We have to keep pushing.