After four days of truce between Israel and Hamas, Qatar and the United States have announced the extension of the ceasefire by 48 hours. This extension will allow more humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip, as well as the release of more hostages held by Hamas and the release of Palestinian prisoners.
So far, 69 hostages - 51 Israelis and 18 foreigners - have returned home and 150 Palestinian women prisoners and minors on terrorism-related charges have been released. Many of them have arrived in West Bank cities such as Ramallah where, in many cases, they have been greeted with Hamas flags, an organisation that is gaining more and more followers in this Palestinian territory controlled by its rival faction, Fatah.
On the other hand, in the last few hours, a group of 11 Israelis -women and children- were released on the fourth consecutive day of the truce. Among them are twins Yuli and Emma Cunio, 3, and their mother Sharon, 34. The girls' father is still being held in Gaza.
Momento en el que las gemelas Yuli y Emma Cunio de 3 años son transferidas a la Cruz Roja. pic.twitter.com/UldfxUknmu— 🇪🇸Spain4Israel🇮🇱 עם ישראל חי (@Spain4Israel) November 27, 2023
Also returned to Israel are brothers Or Yaakov (16) and Yagil Yaakov (13) - who appeared in a Palestinian Islamic Jihad propaganda video in early November - as well as Sahar Calderon (16), and his brother Erez (12). Their father, like all the adult Israeli men abducted on 7 October, remains in Gaza.
Of particular note in this regard is the case of Russian-Israeli national Roni Kriboy, the only man - along with the Thai and Filipino workers - to have left the Palestinian enclave during the truce. Kriboy, who was kidnapped at the Nova music festival, managed to escape from Hamas but was captured by Gazan citizens and returned to the terrorists before finally being released, a relative told Israeli public radio KAN.
The 11 Israeli hostages released from Hamas captivity tonight: Sharon Aloni Cunio and her children Emma and Yuli, siblings Sahar and Erez Calderon,Karina Engel-Bart and her children Mika and Yuval, siblings Yagil and Or Yaakov, and Eitan Yahalomi. pic.twitter.com/dX1kFdoJi9— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 27, 2023
Kriboy has returned to Israel thanks to the intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his "support for the Palestinian cause", Hamas said. On the other hand, the release of the Asian workers was achieved thanks to Iran's mediation.
Happiness over the release of women and children is mixed with sadness and uncertainty over those still held in Gaza. There are still children kidnapped by Hamas and other terrorist groups, such as 9-month-old baby Kfir Bibas and his 4-month-old brother Ariel. Both were kidnapped by Hamas on 7 October along with their parents, Yarden and Shiri.
This is little Kfir Bibas, who is still being held in Gaza.— European Jewish Congress (@eurojewcong) November 28, 2023
At just 10 months, Kfir has spent a heartbreaking 10% of his life as a Hamas hostage.
Each passing day is a cruel reminder of Hamas’ evil inhumanity. Kfir’s life hangs in the balance. #BringThemHome pic.twitter.com/NtLeHtC5Pr
With the beginning of the truce, expectations rose about the release of little Kfir, although he has not yet been freed. Hamas has claimed that it is no longer holding the youngest Israeli hostage. In this regard, according to Israeli army spokesman Avichai Adraee, Hamas handed over the Bibas family to another terrorist faction in Gaza.
Currently, according to the Israeli military authorities, they are being held in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, which has dashed hopes that they were among the 20 hostages scheduled for release in the coming days.
The IDF confirms the Bibas family, including the youngest hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, have been transferred by Hamas to one of the terror groups in Khan Younis, Gaza.— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) November 27, 2023
What kind of monsters treat humans and babies, as bargaining chips? pic.twitter.com/75wsTy3nEL
In addition to Kfir, other cases of abducted minors have particularly shocked the Israeli public, such as 9-year-old Emily Hand, who was initially believed to have been killed but was eventually included in one of the groups of released hostages.
The moment Emily Hand is reunited with her big sister, Natali ❤️🩹pic.twitter.com/k5BNmmOklH— Aviva Klompas (@AvivaKlompas) November 26, 2023
Or 4-year-old Abigail Idan, who witnessed her parents brutally murdered by Hamas before she was abducted and taken to Gaza. Her siblings Michael, 9, and Amalya, 6, hid in a wardrobe for 14 hours before they were finally rescued.
After almost 50 days alone in Gaza, little Abigail has returned to Israel. Pressure from US President Joe Biden during negotiations has been instrumental in her release.
Additional photos of 4-year-old Abigail Idan, who was kidnapped and taken to #Gaza by Hamas terrorists on October 7th. She returned to #Israel last night to her family members who were waiting for her.— StandWithUs (@StandWithUs) November 28, 2023
Photo: Schneider Center pic.twitter.com/OPxiUejxH2
More than 800 truckloads of humanitarian aid enter Gaza
In addition to the joy in Israel over the freed hostages, this truce is also proving to be key for Gazans after weeks of war in which the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave has deepened.
In recent days, approximately 800 trucks carrying aid, including fuel, have entered Gaza. The US is also expected to send three aircraft full of medical supplies, food and materials to cope with the impending winter.
Although this extension of the truce has been welcomed and described by the United Nations as "a glimmer of hope and humanity", UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said it is "not enough time" to meet the needs of the people of the Gaza Strip. "Even with that amount of additional time it will be impossible to meet all the dramatic needs of the population," Guterres said during a press conference.
The UN has also expressed hope that aid to Gaza will enter through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, which has been closed since 7 October, when thousands of terrorists entered southern Israel to kill, torture, kidnap and rape.