No one knows when the Israeli-Hamas war ultimately will end, but early Thursday morning local time in Israel - minutes before the six-day truce was to expire - another temporary truce was agreed upon to a seventh day, Israel Defense Forces said.
Hamas also has confirmed the extension of the truce.
This is the second extension of the initial four-day truce that began on November 24, and was then extended for a fifth and sixth day.
The truce has resulted in the return of 70 Israelis under the agreement. Three dual-national Israeli citizens and 24 foreign nationals have also been released outside of the deal with separate negotiations.
To date, not all of the Americans have been released.
The truce terms remain the same - hostages held by Hamas for Palestinians prisoners held in Israeli jails and humanitarian aid delivered into the Gaza Strip.
"In light of the mediators' efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework, the operational pause will continue," said the Israeli statement.
Both Hamas and Israel have said they were ready to continue the war.
Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas inside Gaza once the initial truces ended.
Before the truce ended, Hamas instructed its military forces to maintain a high readiness in case the extended truce negotiation failed.
The Al-Qassam Brigades called for their fighters to remain on high-combat readiness unless an official statement was issued to extend the truce, which was set to expire at 7 a.m. Middle East local time - midnight on the east coast of the U.S.
Israeli government buckled down as they have from the beginning of their response to Hamas' attack inside Israel on Oct.7 when 1,400 died and 240 hostages were taken to the Gaza Strip.
Israeli military leaders ratcheted up their war rhetoric as the truce was about to end.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would fight until the very end to achieve their goals - return of all hostages and the dismantling of Hamas inside Gaza.
“Over the past few days I’ve been hearing this question – will Israel go back to fighting after maximizing this phase of returning our hostages? So my answer is unequivocal – Yes,” Netanyahu stated. “This is my policy, the whole cabinet stands behind it, the whole government stands behind it, the soldiers stand behind it, the people stand behind it – that is exactly what we will do,” the prime minister added.
The Israeli military is prepared for the next stage of the war in Gaza when the truce ends, Herzi Halevi, the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff stated.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant parroted Halevi.
“IDF troops in the air, ground, and sea, are prepared to resume operations immediately," said Gallant.
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