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US pushes for longer Israel-Hamas truce

Israeli soldiers stand on an Israeli tank near the Israel-Gaza border, amid the temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in southern Israel, November 28, 2023.

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Top US officials are in the Middle East this week to try to prolong the fragile, temporary truce between Israel and Hamas made possible by the exchange of hostages and prisoners.

CIA Director Bill Burns, who was in Qatar on Tuesday as part of this push, is reportedly urging Hamas and Israel to embrace a broader agreement that would allow for the release of men and military personnel. Until now, the deal has only involved the release of women and children.

Sec. of State Antony Blinken is also set to visit Israel and the occupied West Bank this week, where he’ll discuss “continued efforts to secure the release of remaining hostages,” according to the State Department.

While the Biden administration and others pushing for a longer truce may succeed in getting a short-term extension – Israel has said it would add a day for every 10 hostages released, and the truce was extended by two days on Monday – there are serious doubts that a lengthier pause is in the cards anytime soon given the Israeli government’s vocal commitment to continuing the war.

The obstacle: Qatar, which has served as a mediator between the warring parties, says more than 40 of the 240 hostages seized on Oct. 7 are not held captive by Hamas. Dozens are reportedly being held by another militant group in Gaza – the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – that wants greater concessions from the Israeli government.

Israel has indicated that it will resume its Gaza offensive unless hostages continue being released. And even if all the hostages were freed, Netanyahu – whose political days are numbered, with recent polling showing that most Israelis want him to resign –- has made it clear he intends to destroy Hamas.

TL;DR: The conflict is paused, but far from over.


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