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Deal reached to extend Israel-Hamas truce by two days, Qatar says

An agreement has been reached to extend the truce in Gaza between Israel and Hamas by two more days, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari said on Monday on X.

The announcement comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a call on Monday with the prime minister of Qatar, which helped broker the original four-day truce, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

Egypt had said earlier that there were ongoing efforts to extend the pause by two days.

The four-day truce in Gaza, which was slated to end on Tuesday, marked the first major diplomatic breakthrough in the conflict, bringing temporary respite for Palestinians in the besieged enclave and allowing the release of 40 Israeli hostages.

Hamas said it agreed with Qatar and Egypt, to extend the truce for an additional two days “under the same conditions reached before.”

Regev said that under the agreement Hamas will release 10 hostages each day.

“For every 10 hostages released, we’re willing to give an extension of another day, and if Hamas will release Israeli hostages as agreed we will extend — that’s the bottom line,” Regev said.

Regev said he believes the hostages released over the next two days would be women and children.

“My understanding is that there’s still enough women and children in Gaza held by Hamas for the next 20,” Regev said.

Regev credited US President Joe Biden for helping arrange the parameters of the deal.

“These were negotiated with the help of President Biden and we thank him for putting his effort and his office behind these arrangements. I don’t think we would have reached the deal without his input,” he said.

In a statement, Biden praised the extension and said he has been “deeply engaged” as the truce has played out. He went on to thank the leaders of Israel, Qatar, and Egypt “for their commitment to this process and in reaching the agreement for an extension.”

“We will not stop until all of the hostages held by Hamas terrorists are released,” he added.

Israeli and US officials believed that there were more women and children being held in captivity than 50, but agreed to the terms of the deal as Hamas insisted that it needed to use the pause in fighting to gather up additional hostages.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby welcomed news of the extension of the truce Monday, saying that “Hamas has committed to releasing another 20 women and children over the next two days.” The White House also said they “hope to see” the pause extended further.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the prime minister of Qatar held a call with President Biden. This has been corrected.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

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