WORLD NEWS Israel-Hamas war live: ceasefire enters final 24 hours as...

Israel-Hamas war live: ceasefire enters final 24 hours as Netanyahu under pressure to extend deal

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Truce enters final day as Israel under pressure to extend deal

The truce between Israel and Hamas entered its final 24 hours on Monday, with the militant group saying it was willing to extend the pause after it freed more hostages, including a four-year-old orphaned by its attack.

Thee pause that began on Friday has seen dozens of hostages freed, with more than 100 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel in return.

Agence France-Presse also reports that attention now has turned to whether the truce will be extended before its scheduled end early on Tuesday morning.

US president Joe Biden said Sunday:

That’s my goal, that’s our goal, to keep this pause going beyond tomorrow so that we can continue to see more hostages come out and surge more humanitarian relief into those in need in Gaza.

He said he would like the fighting to be paused for “as long as prisoners keep coming out”.

Hamas has signalled its willingness to extend the truce, with a source telling AFP the group told mediators they were open to prolonging it by “two to four days”.

Israel faces enormous pressure from the families of hostages, as well as allies, to extend the truce to secure more releases. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he had spoken to Biden and would welcome extending the temporary truce if it meant that on every additional day 10 captives would be freed.

Netanyahu, centre left, with Israeli military forces in Gaza on Sunday in the first visit to the territory by an Israeli premier since 2005. Photograph: Avi Ohayon/Israel Gpo/Zuma Press Wire/Shutterstock

Under the truce, 50 hostages held by the militants were to be freed over four days in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners. A built-in mechanism extends it if at least 10 Israeli captives are released each extra day

The third group of hostages released on Sunday included a four-year-old American citizen named Abigail whose parents were both murdered in the Hamas attacks.

Key events

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The fullest image yet of life under Hamas captivity was conjured by 85-year-old Yocheved Lipschitz, a hostage who was freed before the current ceasefire. Upon her release, Lipschitz said she had been held in tunnels which stretched under Gaza “like a spider web”, Associated Press reports.

She said her captors “told us they are people who believe in the Quran and wouldn’t hurt us”.

Lifshitz said captives were treated well and received medical care, including medication. The guards kept conditions clean, she said. Hostages were given one meal a day of cheese, cucumber and pita, she said, adding that her captors ate the same.

Adina Moshe in an undated image
Adina Moshe in an undated image. Photograph: Bring Them Home/Reuters

There were initial indications that the recently freed hostages had also been held underground. Eyal Nouri, the nephew of Adina Moshe, 72, who was freed on Friday, said his aunt “had to adjust to the sunlight” because she had been in darkness for weeks.

Nouri said:

She was in complete darkness. She was walking with her eyes down because she was in a tunnel. She was not used to the daylight. And during her captivity, she was disconnected … from all the outside world.

Nouri said that Moshe didn’t know that she was going to be released until the very last moment – “until she saw the Red Cross”.

Yair Rotem, whose niece Hila Rotem-Shoshani was released on Sunday – the day before her 13th birthday – said he had to keep reminding her she didn’t need to whisper.

Hila Rotem-Shoshani, left, with a family member in Israel after her release
Hila Rotem-Shoshani, left, with a family member in Israel after her release. Photograph: Israel Defense Forces/Reuters

Rotem said:

They always told them to whisper and stay quiet, so I keep telling her now she can raise her voice.

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Plastic chairs as beds. Meals of bread and rice. Hours spent waiting for the bathroom. As hostages return to Israel after seven weeks of Hamas captivity, information about the conditions of their confinement has begun to trickle out, Associated Press reports.

The 58 hostages freed under a ceasefire deal over the past three days have largely stayed out of the public eye, with most still in hospitals around Israel. Most of those released appear to be in stable physical condition.

But the details of their captivity after Hamas militants dragged them into Gaza during their bloody attack on 7 October are emerging through stories their family members are telling the press.

Relatives of the hostages are reporting their family members were fed irregularly and lost weight. One says her family members slept on chairs pushed together. Others say their recently-freed relatives are adjusting to sunlight after spending so much time underground.

Merav Raviv, whose three relatives were released by Hamas on Friday, said they had been fed irregularly and had eaten mainly rice and bread. She said her cousin and aunt, Keren and Ruth Munder, had each lost around 7kg (15 pounds) in just 50 days. Her nephew, nine-year-old Ohad Munder-Zichri, also looked thin.

Released hostage Ruth Munder walks with an Israeli soldier shortly after her arrival in Israel
Released hostage Ruth Munder walks with an Israeli soldier shortly after her arrival in Israel. Photograph: Israeli Prime Minister’S Office/Reuters

Raviv said she’d heard from her freed family members that they had slept on rows of chairs pushed together in a room that looked like a reception area. They said they sometimes had to wait hours before going to the toilet.

Adva Adar, the grandchild of 85-year-old released hostage Yaffa Adar, said her grandmother had also lost weight.

She counted the days of her captivity. She came back and she said: ‘I know that I’ve been there for 50 days.’

Rebecca Ratcliffe

Rebecca Ratcliffe

Thailand’s ministry of foreign affairs has shared images of the three Thai nationals released on Sunday.

They are now at the Shamir Medical Centre, south-east of Tel Aviv, accompanied by Thai embassy officials.

The ministry said it “warmly congratulates the recently released hostages and their families and thanks all parties involved in the efforts towards this latest release”.

For the remaining 15 Thai hostages, the royal Thai government continues to exert all efforts towards their safe release at the earliest opportunity, while preparing to bring back the now 17 Thais who have already been released, back to Thailand after their preliminary checks as soon as possible.

Thai hostages freed by Hamas on Sunday hug fellow Thais released earlier, at Israel’s Shamir Medical Centre
Thai hostages freed by Hamas on Sunday hug fellow Thais released earlier, at Israel’s Shamir Medical Centre. Photograph: AP

Here’s more on the four-year-old Israeli American girl released by Hamas on Sunday – she had been captured on 7 October after seeing her parents killed during the militant storming of southern Israel, US president Joe Biden said.

Abigail Edan, who turned four while in captivity, became the third person with US citizenship freed by Hamas during the seven weeks of war with Israel, Reuters reports.

Abigail in an undated photo
Abigail in an undated photo. Photograph: Hostages and Missing Families Forum/Reuters

Relatives told US CBS News last week that the toddler, in the event that she were released, would go to stay with family members in Israel who had already taken in her two older siblings.

Biden said that was the toddler had endured “is unthinkable”.

“We hoped and prayed today would come,” Liz Hirsh Naftali and Noa Naftali, Edan’s great aunt and cousin, said in a statement after her release, thanking Biden and the Qatari government for their work in securing it.

There are no words to express our relief and gratitude that Abigail is safe and coming home.

Biden spoke with members of the dual US-Israeli citizen’s family in the US and Israel after she was freed, the White House said.

Our story earlier on Abigail’s release can be seen here.

Truce enters final day as Israel under pressure to extend deal

The truce between Israel and Hamas entered its final 24 hours on Monday, with the militant group saying it was willing to extend the pause after it freed more hostages, including a four-year-old orphaned by its attack.

Thee pause that began on Friday has seen dozens of hostages freed, with more than 100 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel in return.

Agence France-Presse also reports that attention now has turned to whether the truce will be extended before its scheduled end early on Tuesday morning.

US president Joe Biden said Sunday:

That’s my goal, that’s our goal, to keep this pause going beyond tomorrow so that we can continue to see more hostages come out and surge more humanitarian relief into those in need in Gaza.

He said he would like the fighting to be paused for “as long as prisoners keep coming out”.

Hamas has signalled its willingness to extend the truce, with a source telling AFP the group told mediators they were open to prolonging it by “two to four days”.

Israel faces enormous pressure from the families of hostages, as well as allies, to extend the truce to secure more releases. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he had spoken to Biden and would welcome extending the temporary truce if it meant that on every additional day 10 captives would be freed.

Netanyahu with Israeli military forces in Gaza on Sunday in the first visit to the territory by an Israeli premier since 200
Netanyahu, centre left, with Israeli military forces in Gaza on Sunday in the first visit to the territory by an Israeli premier since 2005. Photograph: Avi Ohayon/Israel Gpo/Zuma Press Wire/Shutterstock

Under the truce, 50 hostages held by the militants were to be freed over four days in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners. A built-in mechanism extends it if at least 10 Israeli captives are released each extra day

The third group of hostages released on Sunday included a four-year-old American citizen named Abigail whose parents were both murdered in the Hamas attacks.

Opening summary

Welcome to our continuing live coverage of the Israel-Hamas war. I’m Adam Fulton and here’s a snapshot of the top developments:

The truce between Israel and Hamas entered its final 24 hours on Monday, with the militant group saying it was willing to extend the pause, while US president Joe Biden said he hoped it could continue as long as hostages were being released.

Hamas freed 17 more people on Sunday in the third exchange of hostages and prisoners under the four-day ceasefire deal that began on Friday, while Israel released 39 Palestinian detainees.

Israel faces enormous pressure from the families of hostages, as well as allies, to extend the truce to secure more releases. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Sunday made the first visit to Gaza by an Israeli premier since 2005, said he had spoken to Biden and would welcome extending the truce if it meant that on every additional day 10 captives would be freed.

But Netanyahu said he also told the US president that, at the end of the truce, “we will return with full force to achieve our goals” of eliminating Hamas and securing the remaining hostages’ release.

More on that story shortly. In other news as it turns 7am in Gaza City and Tel Aviv:

  • The 17 hostages Hamas freed on Sunday included a four-year-old Israeli-American girl, three Thai nationals and a Russian national, and all the Israelis were women or children, Israel said. Prison authorities said 39 Palestinian prisoners, also women and children, were freed from Israeli jails

Israelis celebrate as a helicopter carrying hostages released from Gaza lands at a medical centre in Petah Tikva, Israel, on Sunday.
Israelis celebrate as a helicopter carrying hostages released from Gaza lands at a medical centre in Petah Tikva, Israel, on Sunday. Photograph: Léo Corrêa/AP
  • The releases bring to 63 the total number of freed hostages from around 240 taken to Gaza after Hamas’ 7 October attack, Agence France-Presse reports, while Israel has freed 39 Palestinian prisoners and detainees on each of three days since Friday.

  • One hundred and twenty aid trucks crossed from Egypt to Gaza on Sunday, including two fuel trucks and two with gas for cooking, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service said. “The truce is proceeding without roadblocks,” Diaa Rashwan said.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu said in a phone call with US president Joe Biden on Sunday that at the end of the four-day ceasefire, Israel will resume its military operations in Gaza with full force, Reuters has reported. However, the Israeli prime minister also said he welcomed the possibility of 10 hostages being freed for each extra day of truce.

  • Hamas said on Sunday that it was seeking to extend the truce with Israel should serious efforts be made to increase the number of Palestinian detainees released from Israel.

A crowd in Ramallah on the West Bank surrounds a Red Cross bus carrying Palestinian detainees released from Israeli jails on Sunday
A crowd in Ramallah on the West Bank surrounds a Red Cross bus carrying Palestinian detainees released from Israeli jails on Sunday. Photograph: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images
  • A US Navy warship responded to a distress call from a commercial tanker in the Gulf of Aden that had been seized by armed individuals and was now safe and free, US officials say. The tanker, carrying a cargo of phosphoric acid, was identified as the Central Park by the vessel’s company. The officials did not identify the attackers. The incident is the latest in a series of attacks in Middle Eastern waters since the Israel-Hamas war broke out.

  • Hamas has announced that four senior commanders have been killed, including Ahmed al-Ghandour, a commander in the north of Gaza. Ghandour – whose nom de guerre was Abu Anas – was listed by the US in 2017 as a “specially designated global terrorist”.

  • A Palestinian farmer was killed and another injured on Sunday after they were targeted by Israeli forces in the Maghazi refugee camp in the centre of Gaza, the Palestine Red Crescent Society reported.

  • Israel’s military claimed to have killed five Palestinians overnight on Saturday as well as arresting 21 in Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Funerals were held for those killed on Sunday. The Palestinian health ministry said three others were killed in separate areas of the West Bank since Saturday morning.

  • The current state of aid in Gaza is “hardly enough for humanitarian response if we want to reverse the impact of the siege of Gaza Strip”, the head of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has said. Philippe Lazzarini told US CBS’s Face the Nation said on Sunday that a lot more aid was required than the 160 to 200 trucks’ worth crossing into Gaza daily over the past few days.

  • Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk will meet Israeli president Isaac Herzog on Monday, along with Israelis whose relatives have been held by Hamas in Gaza. Herzog’s office announced the meeting on Sunday night, saying: “In their meeting, the president will emphasise the need to act to combat rising antisemitism online.” Musk, who also runs Tesla and SpaceX, has been accused by civil rights groups of amplifying anti-Jewish hatred on his social media platform X, formerly Twitter. Israel’s Channel 12 said the billionaire would also meet Benjamin Netanyahu on the visit.

  • The Israeli government has accused Ireland’s taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, of legitimising terror and losing his moral compass by saying a freed Irish-Israeli hostage had been “lost” as opposed to kidnapped.

  • Three college students described as being of Palestinian descent were shot and wounded in the US city of Burlington, Vermont, on their way to a family dinner on Saturday evening.

  • Tens of thousands of people including former UK prime minister Boris Johnson gathered in London on Sunday for a march against antisemitism, a day after large crowds turned out for a pro-Palestinian rally. Johnson was joined by the UK chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and other senior government officials at the march, which organisers billed as the largest gathering against antisemitism in London for almost a century. Police at the march detained Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, more widely known by his alias Tommy Robinson, who is the former leader of the far-right English Defence League.

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