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Hamas releases 17 more hostages, expresses willingness to extend truce

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Hamas freed 17 hostages held in Gaza, including a 4-year-old American girl, while Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners on Sunday, the third day of their ceasefire.

The hostage swap brought several powerful emotional moments as aid finally reached the north of Gaza, which has been devastated by Israeli bombardment.

President Joe Biden welcomed the release of four-year-old Abigail Edan, a US-Israeli dual national, and said he would like to “see the pause go on as long as prisoners are getting released”.

He added that his administration would “continue to remain personally engaged to see that this deal is fully implemented and work to extend the deal as well”.

Also, the White House said in a statement that Biden and Netanyahu discussed the pause in the fighting and surge in much needed additional humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

“The prime minister thanked the president for his tireless efforts to help broker and fully implement this deal,” the statement said. “The two leaders agreed that the work is not yet done and that they will continue working to secure the release of all hostages.”

Meanwhile, Hamas has signalled its willingness to extend the truce, with a source telling AFP that the group had told mediators they were open to prolonging it by “two to four days”.

“The resistance believes it is possible to ensure the release of 20 to 40 Israeli prisoners” in that time, the source close to the movement said

The temporary truce is the first halt in the conflict since Hamas, in a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, killed 1,200 people and seized about 240 hostages. Israel in turn vowed to eliminate Hamas and bombarded Gaza with aerial attacks and a ground offensive that Palestinian officials say has killed more than 14,000 people, about 40% of them children.

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