Israel awaits release of 10 more hostages 5:17
Washington and Dubai (CNN) -- The agreement to extend the truce between Israel and Hamas until Thursday came to an end after Hamas refused for hours to submit a list of hostages containing 10 women and children, a condition Israel insisted must be met.
After a tense and protracted tug-of-war over extending the truce to a seventh day, the Israeli government finally accepted a proposal for Hamas to release only eight new Israeli hostages on Thursday and agreed to include two Russian-Israeli hostages freed Wednesday in Thursday's release, multiple sources familiar with the talks told CNN.
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After Israel rejected a version of the Hamas list that listed seven women and children and the bodies of three others who it claimed had been killed by Israeli shelling, Hamas continued to claim that it could not locate any more women and children. Hamas then proceeded to offer seven women and children, and three elderly people, also considered unacceptable to Israelis, according to one source.
Ultimately, Hamas waited until very close to the expiration of the truce to finally hand over a list that Israel accepted: eight new hostages, plus the two Russian-Israelis released on Wednesday, according to the sources. Negotiations have proven to be fluid, leaving open the possibility that the number of hostages released Thursday could change.
The parties are now fully engaged in the daily extension phase of the truce, in which Hamas must offer a new list of 10 hostages to secure another 24 hours in the pause in fighting. Given the serious problems that arose when Hamas argued until the last minute that it was having trouble locating enough hostages, eager negotiators anticipate that the process of extending the truce to an eighth day could be very complicated.
The new details about Wednesday's negotiations underscore the precarious nature of the ongoing truce in the war between Israel and Hamas, which has the various parties involved actively preparing for what will come after the pause. Important questions are now being raised about whether the deal can survive another day or whether Israel will resume fighting.
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Prior to the truce's two-day extension, negotiators believed Hamas probably could not offer more women and children to prolong the pause beyond an eighth day. When Hamas is unable to free more women and children alive, it is understood that Israel will relaunch its military campaign, possibly as early as this weekend.
Israel has repeatedly argued that military pressure aids the release of hostages and Hamas will likely want better conditions for the release of Israeli civilians and soldiers, both men and women. The agreement reached last week only concerned women and children.
"Over the past few days, I've been hearing this question: Will Israel return to the fight after maximizing this phase of returning our hostages?" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, the sixth day of the pause in fighting. "So my answer is unequivocal: yes."
The Biden administration says it has told Israel to take a much more cautious and focused approach than before the pause in fighting, as operations are expected to shift to southern Gaza, where the vast majority of Gazans have been displaced.
At their meeting in Jerusalem on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted to Netanyahu on the need to ensure the protection of civilians in southern Gaza before IDF military operations begin.
"It is imperative that Israel act in accordance with international humanitarian law and the laws of war, even when confronted with a terrorist group that respects neither," Blinken said at a news conference in Tel Aviv.
Blinken said Netanyahu "agreed with the need for this approach" to protect civilians and that the Israeli government offered "concrete steps" to protect civilians.
"There are concrete steps, which it's not appropriate for me to detail here tonight, that we know and have heard, can best ensure that that happens," Blinken said.
It remains to be seen to what extent this insistence will be taken into account.
"Israel and the U.S. administration are in close dialogue on many fronts," an Israeli official said, "including the need to put pressure on Hamas after the pause and the need for humanitarian aid for Gaza's civilian population." In these discussions, Israel is very attentive to the American perspective."
CNN's Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.
Israel Hamas War