Qassam Brigades fighters release detainees in Gaza (French)

The United States announced on Thursday that it will continue efforts to extend the humanitarian truce in Gaza, while American officials expected the resumption of the Israeli military campaign on the Strip.

At a press conference in Tel Aviv this evening, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that his country is committed to achieving the goals of the truce in Gaza, and that it is cooperating with Qatar, Egypt and Israel to do so, adding that work is underway to increase the flow of aid, especially fuel, to the Strip.

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Blinken added that Israel has expressed its intention to resume its military operation in Gaza as soon as the exchange of detainees is completed, and said that the way Israel "defends itself" is important and must abide by international law, explaining that he has demanded that Israeli officials have plans to protect civilians in Gaza.

The Israeli side has expressed its agreement to protect civilians and continue aid before any offensive begins in southern Gaza, he said.

In Washington, National Security Council Strategic Policy Coordinator John Kirby said Washington would continue to work with Qatar and Egypt to extend the humanitarian truce and secure the release of detainees in Gaza.

Kirby added that during the first six days of the truce, more than 100 people who had been detained in Gaza were released, noting that 6 Americans have now left the Strip.

He also spoke of a significant increase in aid to Gaza during the humanitarian truce that began on November 24.

In exchange for talk of Washington's desire to extend the truce, the strategic policy coordinator at the US National Security Council said that if Israel decided to return to striking Hamas, his country would continue to support it.

Extra day

The Qatari Foreign Ministry announced this morning that the Palestinian and Israeli sides reached an agreement to extend the humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip for an additional day, ending on Friday morning under the same previous conditions.

Qatari Foreign Ministry Spokesman Majid al-Ansari stressed the continued intensification of efforts to reach a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources related to the Doha talks revealed to Al Jazeera Net that the ongoing talks focus exclusively on humanitarian truces in Gaza, and did not address in the dialogue a permanent ceasefire, or the completion of a comprehensive prisoner exchange deal.

The sources pointed out that the issue of a permanent ceasefire is still elusive, in light of Israel's insistence on completing its military operation against Gaza and inflicting strategic damage on the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

Minutes before the end of the humanitarian truce, Hamas announced a seventh day of extension.

During the six days of the truce, the Palestinian resistance released more than 82 Israelis and a number of foreigners, and confirmed that there would be no negotiation about captured Israeli soldiers until the aggression was stopped and the siege was lifted. On the other hand, the occupation had released 180 Palestinians as of Thursday evening.

Continuation of the truce

During a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant in Tel Aviv, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he wanted to see more days of truce in the Gaza Strip to take back Hamas detainees.

For his part, Gallant expressed his appreciation for US President Joe Biden's commitment to supporting Israel, and stressed that Israel will continue the war until Hamas is eliminated and all its capabilities are dismantled.

The US secretary met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and participated in the meeting of the Israeli War Council in Tel Aviv, and stated that he supports the continuation of the cessation of hostilities given the results achieved.

Netanyahu held a bilateral meeting with Blinken, who arrived in Israel at dawn on a visit, the fourth since the beginning of the war, to discuss the path of calm, prisoner exchange and the possibility of Israel's return to war.

Resumption of war

Meanwhile, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said this evening that the army is ready to resume fighting in the Gaza Strip immediately.

In simultaneous remarks, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said Tel Aviv was fighting what he called a just war and that it would not stop until we take back the detainees in Gaza and destroy Hamas.

The Wall Street Journal quoted US officials as saying they expect the Israeli military campaign to resume and begin moving into the southern Gaza Strip.

Israel's Channel 13 quoted informed sources as saying that Israel's defense minister told the US secretary of state that the military operation in Gaza could take months, not weeks.

The Axios news site also quoted sources as saying that the Israeli chief of staff told Blinken that the military operation could take more than a few weeks.

AFP reported that Blinken told Netanyahu to protect civilians in the southern Gaza Strip if fighting resumed.

Faced with the prospect of not extending the truce, the Qassam Brigades yesterday evening asked its fighters to prepare for renewed fighting in Gaza.

Since Oct. 15, the Israeli army has waged an all-out war on Gaza that has left more than 30,<> dead and <>,<> injured, mostly children and women, as well as massive destruction of infrastructure and an "unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe."

Source : Al Jazeera + Agencies