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28 February, 2024
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Israel approves more releases as truce nears deadline

Clashes erupt as 33 Palestinians freed in tenuous truce


In a surprising turn of events, the Israel-Hamas truce has rolled into its fifth day, bringing a ray of hope amid the recent tensions. Both sides have been diligently releasing hostages, signaling a possible thaw in the conflict.

The hostage count reached 69, with 11 Israelis returning home on Monday alone. The intriguing part? The truce, initially set for four days, got a two-day extension, courtesy of the White House and Qatari negotiators. While Israel hasn't explicitly confirmed the extension, a subtle nod comes in the form of approving the potential release of 50 female prisoners.

Word is out that Israel has received a list of hostages slated for release, possibly happening today. The anticipation is palpable, with Israel's Army Radio reporting 10 names on that list. However, no official comment has surfaced yet.

Monday's release of 33 Palestinian prisoners added a complex layer to the situation. Clashes erupted outside Ofer prison as Israeli forces engaged with Palestinians eagerly awaiting the release. Flags of Hamas and Islamic Jihad waved in the crowd, showcasing the intricate dynamics at play.

Tragically, amidst the chaos, a Palestinian lost his life, with conflicting reports on the circumstances. While Palestinian media claims a shooting incident, Israel has remained tight-lipped.

The roots of this truce trace back to the Oct. 7 incursion, sparking retaliatory actions. The toll on Gaza has been heavy, with over 15,000 reported Palestinian casualties and hundreds of thousands displaced. Each day under the truce witnesses a delicate exchange – hostages from one side, Palestinians from the other.

For families like the Calderons, the release brings a mix of joy and anxiety. While Sahar and Erez Calderon, ages 16 and 12, step into freedom, their father, Ofer, remains in captivity. "It is the beginning of a difficult rehabilitation process," shares a relative, capturing the emotional rollercoaster.

On the international front, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is gearing up for visits to Israel, the West Bank, and the UAE. The agenda? Sustaining aid to Gaza, ensuring hostage freedom, and outlining U.S. principles for Gaza's future.

While the truce extension is seen as a "glimpse of hope and humanity" by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he notes that two more days might not be enough to meet Gaza's pressing aid needs. The region's struggle for normalcy continues, leaving many with bated breath, hoping for a lasting resolution.

[With information sourced from Reuters]

Cyprus  |  truce  |  Israel  |  hostages  |  release

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