5 min read

Will the ceasefire be extended?

As the Israel-Hamas ceasefire reaches its fourth and final days, international negotiators work to extend the pause in fighting.
Will the ceasefire be extended?
CNN screengrab from yesterday.

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This is the last day of a four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Over the previous three days, in accordance with the terms of the truce, Hamas has released 39 Israeli hostages while Israel has released 117 Palestinian prisoners. Hamas has also released 19 additional hostages, hailing from Thailand, Russia, and the Philippines.

As of this writing, the fourth and final exchange — which should include 11 Israeli hostages and 33 Palestinian prisoners, bringing the totals released to 50 and 150, respectively — is facing a delay as the two sides continue negotiating over who will be released.

According to CNN, Israel is alleging that Hamas violated the original agreement by releasing at least one child — 13-year-old Hila Rotem Shoshani — without their mother, despite promising to release captive mothers and children together. Israel is pushing for the girl’s mother, Raaya Rotem, to be released today.

The U.S. is reportedly involved in talks over the final hostage release, along with Qatar, who brokered the ceasefire agreement.

Once the issues over today’s exchange are resolved, Israel and Hamas are poised to face a broader question: will they agree to extend the fragile ceasefire?

In recent days, both sides have expressed willingness to continue the pause in fighting, with Israel offering an extra day of ceasefire for each additional 10 hostages released. (Israel would also continue releasing three times the number of Palestinian prisoners each time.)

According to Reuters, the two sides are “close” to a deal, but still differ on how long an extension would last: Hamas is seeking a four-day continuation, while Israel wants day-by-day extensions. The U.S., Egypt, and Qatar are reportedly involved in the negotiations.

According to Israel, 184 civilian hostages are still being held in Gaza, although some are believed to be in the captivity of smaller groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad, not Hamas itself. According to the Associated Press, the hostages released so far have reported being fed irregularly and forced to wait to use the bathroom for long periods. One relative said her cousin and aunt each lost about 15 pounds in just 50 days of captivity.

During a visit to Gaza this weekend, his first since the beginning of the Israeli ground invasion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “return with full force” after the ceasefire to fighting to eliminate Hamas and release the hostages.

Since the beginning of the war, Israeli attacks have killed more than 14,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-led Gaza Health Ministry, whose numbers are trusted by the United Nations and other international agencies.

“Even a conservative reading of the casualty figures reported from Gaza shows that the pace of death during Israel’s campaign has few precedents in this century,” the New York Times reported this weekend, noting that “more women and children have been reported killed in Gaza in less than two months than the roughly 7,700 civilians documented as killed by U.S. forces and their international allies in the entire first year of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.”

Several international groups have called for the ceasefire to be extended to allow for more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, amid fears of disease and dehydration among the civilian population.

President Biden has also thrown his weight behind calls for an extension.

“Critical aid is going in and hostages are coming out,” Biden said on Sunday, while celebrating the release of a four-year-old Israeli-American hostage. “This deal is structured so that it can be extended to keep building on these results.”

“That’s my goal, that’s our goal, to keep this pause going beyond tomorrow so that we can continue to see more hostages come out and surge more humanitarian relief to those in need in Gaza,” he continued.

Biden and Netanyahu spoke on Sunday about efforts to prolong the ceasefire.

Sending military aid to Israel will be one of the top issues on Congress’ agenda as lawmakers return today to Washington.

The Republican-led House passed a $14 billion aid package earlier this month, but the Democratic-led Senate has blocked efforts to take up the measure, objecting to its inclusion of $14 billion in cuts to IRS funding.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told colleagues in a letter on Sunday that the chamber will vote as soon as next week on a package combining aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, as well as border security funding. “These national security priorities are interrelated and demand bipartisan congressional action,” Schumer wrote.

House and Senate Republicans have called for any such package to be attached to new immigration restrictions; bipartisan negotiations on the matter are ongoing.

More news to know.

1️⃣ Authorities have arrested a suspect in the shooting of three Palestinian college students in Burlington, Vermont. The U.S. attorney’s office in Vermont is investigating whether the shooting was a hate crime; two of the students were wearing keffiyehs, black-and-white headscarves that have become a symbol of the Palestinian cause.

2️⃣ Former President Donald Trump wrote on Truth Social this weekend that he is “seriously looking at alternatives” to Obamacare, calling the failure to repeal the law during his administration a “low point for the Republican Party.” Democrats are expected to emphasize the issue in the coming days, hoping to benefit from the nation’s latent support for the health care package.

3️⃣ The House is poised to vote on expelling Rep. George Santos (R-NY) as soon as Wednesday. In a recent live chat on X, Santos said that he expects his colleagues to kick him out of Congress. “I have done the math over and over,” he said, “and it doesn't look really good.”

The day ahead.

All times Eastern.

President Biden will deliver remarks at 2 p.m. on new executive actions to “strengthen America’s supply chains,” including invoking the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to boost domestic manufacturing of medicines and medical supplies.

Vice President Harris will travel to Houston, where she will participate in an event with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and speak at a Biden campaign fundraiser.

The Senate will vote at around 5:30 p.m. to advance a U.S. district judge nomination.

The House is out until tomorrow.

The Supreme Court will hear two cases on sentencing for drug offenses.

Thanks for reading.

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