At 7 am local time (6 in Italy) the deadline set for the truce between Israel and Hamas expired, which began last Friday and allowed a mutual exchange of prisoners and hostages. The two sides had initially agreed to a four-day truce, which was extended several times after long and complicated negotiations mediated by Qatar, which has good relations with both.
Just a few minutes after the end of the truce, fighting between Israel and Hamas began again. The Israeli army said it shot down a rocket fired from Gaza into Israel, and Hamas-affiliated media reported explosions and gunfire in the northern Gaza Strip.
The latest extension on Thursday allowed the release of eight Israeli hostages by Hamas, and 30 Palestinian detainees by Israel. In total, in seven days Hamas freed 105 people taken hostage during the attack on 7 October (out of a total of around 240), including 78 Israeli women and minors.
The other freed hostages were of different nationalities, predominantly Thai, and were freed under separate agreements that were not part of the truce agreement with Israel. Israel instead freed a total of 210 Palestinian prisoners held in the country’s prisons.
– Read also: The Israeli investigation into the rapes committed by Hamas on 7 October
From the first days of the truce, the Israeli authorities had said that the suspension of fighting would be temporary – therefore not a definitive “ceasefire” as requested by the United Nations – and that once it ended they would restart military operations in the Gaza Strip to hit Hamas.
In the last two days, representatives of Israel and Hamas had said they were willing to suspend the fighting for a few more days, even if the Israeli government had specified that in any case it did not intend to continue the truce beyond Sunday. Thursday on Wall Street Journal he had written, citing Egyptian government officials, that Israel and Hamas had agreed to an eighth day of truce, but there was no confirmation from either the Israeli government or the radical Palestinian group.