Israel, Hamas strike a last-minute agreement to extend Gaza truce by a day
GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel and Hamas struck a last-minute agreement on Thursday to extend their six-day ceasefire by one more day to allow negotiators to keep working on deals to swap hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners.
The truce has allowed much needed humanitarian aid into Gaza after much of the coastal territory of 2.3 million was reduced to wasteland by Israel's bombardment in response to a deadly rampage by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.
"In light of the mediators' efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework, the operational pause will continue," the Israeli military said in a statement, released minutes before the temporary truce was due to expire at 0500 GMT.
Hamas, which freed 16 hostages in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday, said in a statement the truce would continue for a seventh day.
Shortly after the agreement, Israeli police said two Palestinian attackers opened fire at a bus stop during morning rush hour at the entrance to Jerusalem, killing two people and wounding eight others. Both attackers were "neutralised", it said.
"Two terrorists arrived at the scene in a vehicle armed with firearms, these terrorists opened fire towards civilians at the bus station and were subsequently neutralised by security forces and a nearby civilian," the police said.
The conditions of the ceasefire, including the halt of hostilities and the entry of humanitarian aid, remain the same, according to a Qatar foreign ministry spokesperson. Qatar has been a key mediator between the warring sides, along with Egypt and the United States.
Before the agreement, both Israel and Hamas had said they were preparing to resume fighting as negotiations over the next batch of hostages to be released hit an impasse.
"A short time ago, Israel was given a list of women and children in accordance with the terms of the agreement, and therefore the truce will continue," the Israeli prime minister's office said in a statement just as the truce was due to expire.
Hamas earlier said Israel had refused to receive a further seven women and children and the bodies of three other hostages in exchange for extending the truce.
Hamas did not name those killed but had said on Wednesday a family of three Israeli hostages, including the youngest hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, had died during Israel's bombardment of the enclave.