Hamas, Israel exchange again as temporary cease-fire holds
DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas and Israel released more hostages and prisoners under terms of a fragile cease-fire that held for a fifth day Tuesday as international mediators in Qatar worked to extend the truce and the United States urged Israel to better protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza if it follows through on its promise to resume the war.
In the latest swap since the cease-fire began Friday, Israel said 10 of its citizens and two Thai nationals were freed by Hamas and had been returned to Israel. Soon after, Israel released 30 Palestinian prisoners. The truce is due to end after one more exchange tonight.
For the first time, Israel and Hamas blamed each other for an exchange of fire between troops and militants in northern Gaza. There was no immediate indication it would endanger the truce, which has enabled humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza.
CIA director William Burns and David Barnea, who heads Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, were in Qatar, a key mediator with Hamas, to discuss extending the cease-fire and releasing more hostages, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to visit the region this week.
Israel has vowed to resume the war with “full force” to destroy Hamas once it’s clear that no more hostages will be freed under the deal.
The Biden administration told Israel it must avoid “significant further displacement” of and mass casualties among Palestinian civilians if it resumes its offensive, and that it must operate with more precision in southern Gaza than it has in the north, according to US officials.
NATIONAL / WORLD NEWS
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