Israel, Hamas negotiated through mediators on Wednesday over another potential extension of the Gaza truce, with hours left to reach a deal before fighting was due to restart after a six-day pause.
Families of Israeli hostages were informed on Wednesday of the names of those due to be released later in the day, Israel’s public broadcaster Kan reported, the final group to be freed under the truce unless negotiators succeed in extending it.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers published a list of 15 women and 15 teenagers to be released from Israeli jails in return.
For the first time since the truce began, it included Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as residents of occupied territory.
A Palestinian official stated that despite a willingness on both sides to prolong the truce, no agreement had yet been reached.
Discussions were still underway with mediators Egypt and Qatar, the official said.
Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said Israel would consider any serious proposal, though he declined to provide further details.
“We are doing everything we can in order to get those hostages out. Nothing is confirmed until it is confirmed,” Levy told reporters in Tel Aviv.
“We’re talking about very sensitive negotiations in which human lives hang in the balance,” he added.
Once the release of hostages ends, the fighting will resume, he said: “This war will end with the end of Hamas.”
So far Gaza militants have freed 60 Israeli women and children from among the 240 hostages they seized in a deadly rampage on October 7 under the deal that secured the war’s first truce.
No fewer than 21 foreigners, mainly Thai farmworkers, were also freed under separate parallel deals.
In return, Israel has released 180 Palestinian security detainees, all women and teenagers.
The initial four-day truce was extended by 48 hours from Tuesday, and Israel said it would be willing to prolong it further for as long as Hamas frees 10 hostages a day.
However, with fewer women and children still in captivity, that could mean agreeing to terms governing the release of at least some Israeli men for the first time.
Tuesday’s release also included for the first time hostages held by Islamic Jihad, a separate militant group, as well as by Hamas itself.
The ability of Hamas to secure the release of hostages held by other factions had been an issue in earlier talks. (NAN)