Hamas Says It's Open To Longer Cease-Fire And More Hostage Releases

Israeli officials said they had approved a new list of Palestinian prisoners to be freed if Hamas makes good on its promise to release more hostages, and Israel had a list of names from Hamas of the hostages it planned to free later Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 28th 2023, 7:14 am

By: CBS News


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The temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip continued Tuesday after being extended for two additional days to allow for the release of more hostages by the militant group and more Palestinian prisoners to be freed by Israel. Israeli officials said they had approved a new list of Palestinian prisoners to be freed if Hamas makes good on its promise to release more hostages, and Israel had a list of names from Hamas of the hostages it planned to free later Tuesday.

Around 170 people remain captive in Gaza, according to Israel, but not all are held by Hamas. U.S. officials have said they're continuing to work for further extensions in the truce, and that they'll keep pushing the negotiations until everybody is released. 

A Hamas official told CBS News on Tuesday that the group — long designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., Israel and many other nations — was looking to negotiate another extension of the pause in fighting during which it would release not just women and children, as it has done daily since Friday, but also male hostages and abducted Israeli soldiers.

Hamas has released a total of 69 hostages over four consecutive nights, the most recent group being 11 people handed over Monday night. Eight of them were children, the youngest a pair of twins only 3 years old. 

Israel has held up its end of the bargain by releasing 150 Palestinian prisoners, many of them teenagers and some jailed for minor offenses like throwing stones.

In Israel, after weeks of dread, dozens of families have been able to breathe a sigh of relief. There have been moments of joy as families have been reunited, including for Maayan Zin, who finally has her daughters Ella and Dafna back in her arms.

For other hostage families, however, it has been a bittersweet few days.

Hadas Calderon learned Monday night that her daughter Sahar and son Erez were being released, but their father Ofer is believed to remain in captivity. 

There will also be more pain ahead for Abigail Mor Edan, a 4-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who was freed, but whose parents were both among the roughly 1,200 people killed by Hamas during its Oct. 7 terror rampage across southern Israel. 

"I'm so happy that she's here," Abigail's aunt Ella Mor told CBS News. "She's like Israel's little baby. Everybody feels her, is her own baby."

It still wasn't clear on Tuesday if the little girl knew her parents were dead.

The family received a call from President Biden after Abigail was released, which Mor described as an "amazing" experience. She said it felt as though the U.S. leader was "a new member of the family… like a grandfather."

Mor said her family had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy from the U.S. and around the world, which she said included many offers of adoption for Abigail. She said that while the little girl had lost her parents and the family was grateful for the offers, "she has a family," and that family was busy "surrounding her with love and care and protecting her."

"My heart is a little bit better right now," said Mor, "but there are still so many people — amazing people and children and women and men that are still there in Gaza — and we have to bring them back. … It's not enough to bring only 13 people at a time. It's not enough. We have to bring them back, and our hearts will be healed again."

Iris Weinstein Hagai was still waiting for her heart to heal on Tuesday. There's been no news at all about her 70-year-old mother Judy, who's believed to be one of the American hostages still in Gaza.

"The hostages that were released didn't see her. They didn't hear about her," she told CBS News. "I don't have any proof of life for my mom. Nothing."

Hagai said she had seen video evidence suggesting her father Gadi, also a U.S. national and thought to be among the hostages, was actually killed by the militants, who then took his body.

"I'm hopeful we can get all the hostages out," she said. "The soldiers, the men that nobody talks about, the bodies - everybody."

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