Israel and Hamas extended their truce into a seventh day at the last minute, with a deal that will see Hamas release eight Israeli and two Russian hostages, and the bodies of three hostages who died (or were murdered) in Hamas custody.
The extension also took place as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel for talks with the Israeli government in Jerusalem and, later, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Blinken and the Biden administration have been pushing for further and longer pauses in the fighting.
As the day broke Thursday, it was unclear “whether, and when” fighting would resume, as Israel’s Army Radio described the situation. But news broke at roughly ten minutes to 7:00 a.m. — the official end of the truce — that Israel would hold back to provide more time for mediation via Qatar, Egypt, and the U.S. Shortly thereafter, the extension was announced.
Within a few hours, Hamas carried out a terror attack in which it murdered three civilians and wounded several others at a Jerusalem bus stop.
It is unclear if the attack violates the terms of the truce. Israel has continued military actions in the Palestinian cities of the West Bank in an effort to preempt other attacks by Hamas and various other terrorist organizations.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) estimates that there are 159 hostages still in Gaza out of about 240 taken on October 7, including children and women. Hamas claims that it can no longer find additional women and children, some of whom were given to other terrorist groups.
The Israeli public supports a return to war, except while hostages are being released. Hamas has reportedly indicated a willingness to release male hostages, and possibly even the male and female soldiers it took hostage, but only in exchange for a much higher price in terms of Palestinian terror convicts released.
That is a price Israel is unwilling to pay.
The perpetrators of Thursday’s attack were both Hamas members previously jailed by Israel for their earlier alleged involvement in terror activities.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.