Israel and Hamas accuse each other of breaching truce as more hostages released

Pause in fighting had been extended by two days on Monday

Israeli tanks outside the city of Sderot, near the border with Gaza. Getty Images
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Hamas on Tuesday freed another 12 of the 240 hostages it seized on October 7, while Israel released 30 Palestinian detainees, in the latest exchange made possible by a fragile temporary truce.

The release came hours after Israel and Hamas accused each other of breaching the truce agreement that was originally due to run for four days but has been extended by an additional two days.

The Israeli military said several soldiers had been “lightly injured” in three separate explosions and an ensuing shoot-out in the northern part of the besieged Gaza Strip.

The incidents violated “the framework of the operational pause”, the military said.

Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that a spokesman for Hamas's military wing had said “a field clash” took place after Israeli troops violated the terms of the truce. He did not immediately elaborate.

Far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order the military to “crush Hamas with force”, saying militants “tried to murder” soldiers in northern Gaza.

Local authorities in Gaza say about 15,000 people have been killed since Israel launched its operation to root out the militant group in the wake of its October 7 attacks that killed about 1,200 people and saw another 240 taken hostage.

Several Israelis told The National they are growing frustrated with the truce in Gaza as they worry the military is losing momentum and Hamas is using the time to regroup and plot new attacks.

The truce came into effect on Friday to allow for the exchange of detainees and hostages. Originally supposed to last four days, the pause was extended by two days and is now due to expire early on Thursday.

There was no immediate indication the claims of a truce breach would derail the latest planned exchange.

Since the truce started, Hamas has released 69 hostages – 50 Israeli women and children as well as 19 foreigners, mainly Thai farmworkers.

In return, Israel has released 150 security detainees from its jails, all women and teenagers.

Hamas was due on Tuesday to release another 10 hostages in return for a group of Palestinian detainees.

Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi is said to be on a list of 50 female Palestinian detainees approved for release as part of the extended truce agreement with Hamas. Now 22, she was famously jailed at age 16 for slapping an Israeli soldier and was detained again on November 6 for allegedly “inciting violence”.

Meanwhile, accounts of conditions for Israeli hostages have started to emerge as they are reunited with loved ones.

Thomas Hand, father of nine-year-old Irish-Israeli Emily Hand, told CNN that his daughter had to speak in whispers throughout her ordeal.

“I had to put my ear close to her mouth to hear – in captivity, she was told not to make any noise. You can see the terror in her eyes,” Mr Hand said.

Updated: November 30, 2023, 8:45 AM