Petah Tivka, Israel — A humanitarian pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas will be extended by two days, Qatar said Monday before the initial four-day truce in Gaza was set to expire.
"The State of Qatar announces that, as part of the ongoing mediation, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip," Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari said on social media.
John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council at the White House, also confirmed the two-day extension during a news briefing Monday, saying Hamas has agreed to release 20 additional hostages over the next two days. Kirby said they are working to further extend the cease-fire as well.
The announcement came after dozens of Israeli hostages and more than 100 Palestinian prisoners, including the first American to be released by Hamas in Gaza, . Another group of hostages was still expected to be released Monday, along with another group of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
The pause in fighting was originally scheduled to end at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning local time, which is midnight Eastern, but Israel had said it was willing to extend the agreement by one extra day for every 10 additional hostages released by Hamas. A Hamas representative also said earlier Monday that the group wanted to extend the truce.
The extension will be welcome news for dozens of Israeli families still longing to get their loved ones back after Hamas' bloody Oct. 7 terror rampage across southern Israel.
Israeli news outlets said Hamas had provided officials with a list of the. The group — long designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., Israel and many other nations — started freeing women, children and elderly hostages on Friday. The previous group handed back to Israeli authorities was 17 people released on Sunday, including 13 Israelis and four foreign nationals.
Four-year-old U.S.-Israeli dual national Abigail Mor Edan was among them. She was recovering in a hospital Monday after spending more than 50 days in captivity — including her fourth birthday on Friday.
Both of Abigail's parents were killed in Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, when gunmen stormed into her family's small farming community. Abigail managed to run to a neighbor's house but was kidnapped.
Batia Holin, a neighbor of Abigail's family, told CBS News that her granddaughter and Abigail were best friends.
"We don't know whether she knows her parents are gone," Holin said Monday.
The temporary cease-fire agreed to by Israel and Hamas has held since early Friday morning. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited troops in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, where Palestinians were taking stock of the destruction wreaked by his military's relentless airstrikes and ground operations.
Israel has held up its end of the hostage deal, releasing 117 Palestinian prisoners so far, many of them teenagers. There were celebrations on the streets of the West Bank to welcome them home, where some people waved the green flag of Hamas.
In Israel,, initially thought to have been killed, was among the child hostages returned to their parents over the weekend.
It was a joyous reunion also for Ohad Munder, who spotted his eager father waiting to greet him.
Shira Havron's family got six of its members back on Saturday, including her aunt and three cousins.
"There's no words, I think, invented to explain this feeling," she told CBS News, calling it "such an uplifting moment and so emotional… It was a miracle."
Yaffa Adar, 85, was among the first hostages released on Friday night. She was last seen being paraded through the streets of Gaza on a golf cart stolen from her kibbutz.
"They say a lot of jokes about the Jewish grandma… but there isn't a tougher material in the world," declared Yifat Zailer, who, like the rest of Israel, was glued to her television watching the hostage releases with excitement and relief over the weekend. But for her, like many others, there were mixed emotions.
"I'm really jealous," she told CBS News.
Zailer was still waiting Monday for her cousin Shiri and Shiri's two children, Ariel, 4, and 10-month-old Kfir, to be released. They were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Oz.
"It's torture," she said of the way the hostages have been released in groups, without much prior notice of who will be next. She wasn't optimistic that her youngest would be home very soon.
"It's obvious they're keeping the baby to the end," Zailer told CBS News.
"Those little redhead babies became kind of a symbol," she said, "and Hamas knows that. They can ask for a bigger price, they can ask for… whatever they want… They know how much we want that baby back."
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