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Negotiators push to extend Israel-Hamas cease-fire for second time as final hostage release looms

Negotiators are pushing Israel and Hamas to extend their cease-fire for a second time Wednesday as the brief pause agreement enters its sixth and final day.

Israel and Hamas have so far agreed to one more exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, having extended the cease-fire for two days beyond its original end date of Monday. Israeli leaders have vowed the destruction of Hamas in Gaza, but it is unclear when that campaign will resume.

“How far both sides will be prepared to go in trading hostages and prisoners for the pause is about to be tested, but the pressures and incentives for both to stick with it are at the moment stronger than the incentives to go back to war,” Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, wrote on X.

CIA director William Burns and Mossad chief David Barnea negotiated with Qatari officials regarding an extension of the cease-fire throughout Tuesday as well. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also expected to push for a longer cease-fire when he visits Israel and the West Bank this week.

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As of Wednesday, Hamas had released 60 Israeli women and children and 21 people of other nationalities. There are believed to be 159 hostages still in the custody of Hamas or other terrorist groups.

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In exchange for the hostages, 180 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails have been released.

Israel Defense Forces continue to say that fighting will resume following the end of the “operational pause.”

“A daily message to the residents of Gaza after the extension of the temporary operational pause: Do not try moving to northern Gaza, which is considered a war zone. You can only move to the south of Wadi Gaza via the Salah al-Din Road,” the IDF wrote on X. “It is forbidden to approach within a kilometer of the border. Entry into the sea is prohibited. For your safety, obey these instructions.”

Israel and Hamas have exchanged lists of hostages and prisoners set to be released Wednesday, but neither party has stated how large the groups are.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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