Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas agreed to extend the temporary cease-fire in Gaza by two days, a spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry said Monday.
“The State of Qatar announces, 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,” Majed Al Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, said on X, formerly Twitter.
At a White House press briefing on Monday, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said “we welcome the announcement” of the two-day extension and announced the arrival of the “biggest humanitarian convoy” to Gaza since the October 7 attack. On Saturday, 187 aid trucks had made it into Gaza, according to the U.N., sending desperately needed food, water and fuel to more than 2 million Palestinians who are under an Israeli government imposed “complete siege” since the Hamas attack.
Kirby said fewer than 10 American citizens are among the remaining Hamas hostages. “We’re grateful we’ve got an extra two days to work with here,” Kirby continued, adding that “we’d certainly like to see even that extension extended further until all the hostages are released.”
Yet Kirby also underscored the risks associated with the humanitarian pause. Kirby acknowledged that there was a “real risk” that a pause in fighting could benefit Hamas’ capabilities. Under a previous deal struck last week and brokered by Qatar — together with the United States and Egypt — Israel and Hamas had agreed to halt hostilities in Gaza.
“I would just say that, without getting into intelligence matters, that any pause in the fighting could benefit your enemy, in terms of time to refit, to rest your fighters, to rearm them, re-equip them,” Kirby noted.
The agreement, which included the release of dozens of hostages held by Hamas as well as dozens of Palestinians in Israeli detention, was set to expire on Tuesday, at 7 a.m. local time (6 a.m. CET).
This article has been updated.