Israel and Hamas have agreed to extend their temporary truce until Friday, despite not providing specific details of the agreement.
The extension comes just minutes before the previous halt in fighting was set to expire. Israel's military stated that the "operational pause" would continue, while Hamas announced that the truce would be extended for a seventh day.
Qatar, which has been leading the truce negotiations, confirmed that the pause had been extended until Friday. The truce has temporarily halted the fighting that began on October 7.
Israel's subsequent air and ground campaign has caused significant damage to Gaza, with Hamas reporting nearly 15,000 casualties, mostly civilians. There is pressure to extend the truce to allow for hostage releases and aid to be delivered to Gaza.
The agreement allows for extensions if Hamas can release another 10 hostages each day. However, just before the truce was set to expire, Hamas stated that their offer to release seven hostages had been refused. Both Israel and Hamas have expressed their readiness to return to fighting if the truce expires.
Israel has pledged to eliminate Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, in response to the Oct. 7 violent incident carried out by the militant group. According to Israeli reports, the attack resulted in the death of 1,200 individuals, with 240 being held hostage.
In the weeks leading up to the ceasefire, Israel launched a sustained bombardment of the area, resulting in the deaths of over 15,000 Palestinians, as confirmed by health authorities in the coastal region.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, arrived in Tel Aviv on Thursday for his third visit to the area since the Oct. 7 attack, with the aim of discussing an extension to the cessation of hostilities.
The White House stated that President Joe Biden is resolute in securing the release of all hostages held by Hamas, following the liberation of American citizen Liat Beinin on Wednesday.
US officials revealed on Wednesday that they are urging Israel to limit the area of conflict and clearly define safe zones for Palestinian civilians during any future military operations in southern Gaza, in order to prevent a recurrence of the high number of casualties resulting from Israel's previous attacks in northern Gaza.
Jordan is set to host a conference on Thursday, attended by major international relief agencies, to coordinate aid to Gaza, as reported by official media sources.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cautioned on Wednesday that the Gaza Strip is currently facing a dire humanitarian crisis and appealed for a durable ceasefire to replace the temporary truce.
China called on the Security Council on Thursday to devise a "concrete" timeline and roadmap for a two-state solution, in order to achieve a comprehensive, equitable, and enduring resolution to the Palestinian issue.