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Israel-Hamas truce extension buys Netanyahu and Sinwar time

The Israeli government has pledged to resume fighting once Hamas stops liberating hostages, but the battle against the group could employ other war methods.
Yahia al-Sinwar (C), the Gaza Strip chief of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement, addresses supporters during a rally marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day, a commemoration in support of the Palestinian people celebrated annually on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Gaza City, on April 14, 2023. (Photo by Mohammed ABED / AFP) (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images)

TEL AVIV — The four-day pause in the war between Israel and Hamas went into overtime Tuesday, with the sides agreeing on a two-day extension and the release of an additional 20 Israeli hostages held by Hamas. 

More so, Mossad head David Barnea and CIA chief William Burns are both currently in Doha, meeting with senior Qatari officials to discuss a plan for the release of abductees in addition to women and children, reported Haaretz on Tuesday. Evidently, Israel is seeking to release as many hostages as possible for humanitarian reasons, but a large hostage release deal could also benefit it in another way — the fewer abductees are in the Gaza Strip, the bigger would be its military-maneuvering freedom there.

So far, the negotiations mediated by Qatar, the United States and Egypt have resulted in freedom for 50 Israeli hostages, mostly minors along with their mothers and older women. Freedom for an additional 20 hostages would still leave over 140 Israelis in captivity in the Gaza Strip, many in the hands of Hamas but some also held by other Palestinian factions and even criminal gangs.

The potential for an extension of the initial four days — followed by additional extensions — emerged during the negotiations leading up to the cease-fire/hostage deal that went into effect on Nov. 24. The war Cabinet capped the pause at 10 days, but now that the hostages have begun coming out in daily trickles, that, too, could change. 

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