Gaza Truce: As Israel-Hamas ceasefire extension stalls, fighting resumes

In a resumption of hostilities, the Israeli military confirmed on Friday that its fighter jets have initiated strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, according to an Associated Press report.

The strikes occurred 30 minutes after the weeklong ceasefire officially ended at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT).

Earlier, Israel accused Hamas launching rockets from Gaza towards Israel in violation of the truce agreement.

The expiration of the truce has now led to valid concerns of further damage on both sides, with no immediate word on an extension from mediator Qatar.

Israel’s military forces said they intercepted Hamas rockets from Gaza early on Friday while Hamas-affiliated media reported gunfire and explosions in the north, both in violation of the truce.

Air raid sirens sounded in Israeli communities near the border with Gaza as the 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) deadline neared, signalling a resumption in strikes on Hamas targets.

With neither side officially announcing an extension to the truce, the international community has intensified pressure for a lasting cessation of hostilities, as Israel targets Hamas in the south.

The United States has urged Israel to establish safe zones for Gaza civilians as the expiration approached.

In a major reprieve in the Israel-Hamas conflict, Tuesday saw a 48-hour extension of the first four-day truce between Israel and Hamas.

Israel says it is willing to extend the truce further as long as Hamas releases ten hostages every day.

Twelve more hostages were released by Hamas on Tuesday, according to the Red Cross and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), after a humanitarian pause in fighting.

Red Cross representatives transferred the 12 hostages to Egypt, the IDF said. 

30 Palestinians, 15 minors and 15 women, were also released from Israeli prisons on exchange.

The ceasefire extension came after dozens of Israeli hostages and more than 100 Palestinian prisoners were released on Monday and over the weekend.

Continuous bombardment by Israel in Gaza has caused over 15,000 confirmed deaths—40% of them children, according to Palestinian health officials.

With hours to go for the end of the first ceasefire agreement, the extension was brokered after a six-day break between Israel and Hamas as they engaged in negotiations through Wednesday.

According to Israel’s public broadcaster, families of Israeli hostages were notified on Wednesday. The leaders of Hamas also revealed a list of fifteen women and fifteen teenagers who would be freed from Israeli prisons in exchange.

As per the agreement that resulted in the first ceasefire in the war, Hamas has released 60 Israeli women and children out of the 240 captives taken on October 7.

180 Palestinian women and teenagers who were detained for security reasons have been freed by Israel in exchange, as well as 21 foreign nationals.

Along with Hamas, hostages held by the extremist organisation Islamic Jihad were also released on Tuesday for the first time.

The conflict was sparked by gunmen’s ‘Black Shabbat’ raid on October 7, which, according to Israel’s count, claimed 1,200 lives on the Jewish rest day.

About 6,500 individuals were still unaccounted for, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, which also reported that 160 more remains had been extricated from debris in the last 24 hours of the ceasefire.