TEL AVIV: The Israeli government said today it had put Hamas “on notice” that an “option for an extension” of the truce in the Gaza Strip was open.
“We want to receive another additional 50 hostages beyond tonight on our way to bringing everyone home,” government spokesman Eylon Levy told reporters, announcing the move.
The terms of the truce agreement pausing the fighting in the Gaza Strip say it can be extended beyond its initial four-day term as long as 10 hostages are released for each extra day, with three times as many Palestinians freed in return.
As such, another 50 hostages would imply a five-day extension.
Hamas has signalled its willingness to extend the truce, with a source telling AFP yesterday that the group had informed mediators they were open to prolonging it by “two to four days”.
“The resistance believes it is possible to ensure the release of 20 to 40 Israeli prisoners” in that time, the source close to the movement said.
The negotiations are being mediated by Qatar and Egypt.
An Egyptian security source said today that there was disagreement between the two sides on the mechanism of the extension, with Hamas seeking a four-day addition and Israel seeking a day-by-day extension.
“The mediators are making intensive efforts to secure this extension of the truce and ceasefire for several days.”
Israeli spokesman Levy added that the campaign to “end Hamas … will resume immediately with the end of the hostages release pause”.
He added: “It is of course Israeli military pressure that has brought Hamas to bear to agree to release those hostages. We have had it begging for a breather because it has been clobbered over the last months and that pressure will continue until we get everyone home.”