The wait seems a little longer each time. Monday evening, the fourth handing over of hostages, by Hamas, was still pending without knowing the reasons for this delay. In the afternoon, a list of detainees for release was revealed to the families concerned by the Prime Minister's Office.
Among these newly released people, there must have been at least three French minors. Ethan, 12, had been kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz along with his mother, Bat Cheva, and sister. The latter managed to escape but the young boy, stuck on a motorbike between two kidnappers, was taken to Gaza. “I don’t wish anyone to go through such an ordeal,” his mother emphasized a few days later. His grandmother Jocelyn Goldapper moved from heaven and earth calling Emmanuel Macron to intercede. “I am convinced that he can do something,” she confided a few weeks ago. Monday afternoon on LCI, she expressed her “relief”, Ethan being according to her “on the list”. However, she remained cautious as long as she “did not see the children getting out of the Red Cross car”.
Ethan should not in fact be alone. Young Sahar Kalderon, 16 years old, and her brother Erez, 12 years old, should also theoretically regain their freedom. The two French teenagers had also been captured during the bloody assault on Nir Oz, with the father, Ofir, and undoubtedly their cousin. At the same time, Hamas said it had received the names of Palestinian prisoners expected to be released, including 3 women and 30 minors. According to the Israeli government, as of Monday morning there were still 184 hostages in the hands of Hamas, including 14 foreigners and 80 dual nationals.
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These releases should not be the last as the truce, which was to end Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., was renewed after a day of intense negotiations. Uncertainty hovered for a long time but finally, Hamas, Qatar and the United States, the main mediators, announced Monday evening an extension for two days. Israel did not immediately confirm this extension.
From the moment it was signed, the first truce was intended to be extended. During the night from Sunday to Monday, Hamas said it was “seeking to extend the truce beyond its four days”, with the aim of “increasing the number of prisoners released”. Monday morning, a government spokesperson indicated that Israel, where resistance seemed more intense, had also proposed an “option” to extend the truce.
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According to an Egyptian security source, cited by AFP, the hiatus, which made its continuation still uncertain, concerned the duration of the extension. Israel would have insisted on a day-by-day renewal, specifies the Israeli daily Haaretz, while the Palestinian movement was in favor of an extension of “two to four days”. The other difficulty concerned establishing the list of hostages to be released during these additional days, which may have delayed the announcement.
The principle of an extension was acquired all the more quickly in Israel as strong pressure came from the relatives of the hostages, who made their release an absolute priority. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to take this into account, without offending his most right-wing electorate who place the crushing of Hamas at the top of their ambitions. “There are provisions for the release of ten more hostages every day and that is a blessing,” he said Sunday evening. The agreement indeed allows its renewal and in this case the daily release of around ten hostages, in exchange for around thirty Palestinian prisoners.
On Sunday, during his first visit to the Gaza Strip since the start of the war, he called for “victory” and asked the government for a “war” budget of 30 billion shekels (7.3 billion euros). . “But we will, after the agreement, return to our objective: to eliminate Hamas and ensure that the Gaza Strip is no longer what it was,” he added immediately, assuring that he had announced to the American president.
Watch the videoHamas hostages: what the first releases reveal - David Khalfa's explanations
Pressure also comes from outside. Joe Biden had thus stated his goal “to ensure that this pause continues”. The White House immediately “welcomed” the extension of the truce. After the American president, the head of diplomacy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, also called for a “lasting” truce with a view to working on a “political solution” to the conflict. Neither have yet invoked a ceasefire, a request supported by several European countries, including France, but rejected by others.
The truce has already allowed the entry of hundreds of trucks loaded with humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, besieged and devastated by seven weeks of Israeli bombardments, but the needs are still immense. The convoys from Egypt have certainly offered a little respite to the inhabitants but the humanitarian situation remains “dangerous” and the needs are “unprecedented”, estimated Sunday the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). For Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN, the announcement of the extension of the truce is therefore “a glimmer of hope and humanity”.