Ronaldo Schemidt Agence France-Presse An Israeli reacts near the scene of the attack perpetrated Thursday in Jerusalem In the background, the car allegedly used by the attackers is towed.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Marc Jourdier – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem
- Middle East
The Islamist movement Hamas claimed responsibility for an attack in Jerusalem on Thursday that left three dead after agreeing to extend a fragile truce with Israel by one day and release more Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “imperatively” protect civilians in the southern Gaza Strip if the truce falls apart.
The truce, scheduled until 5 a.m. Friday (midnight EST), came into effect on November 24 after more than seven weeks of devastating Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for an unprecedented attack launched on October 7 by the Islamist movement Hamas onto Israeli soil from Palestinian territory.
Adding to the volatility of the situation, three Israelis, including two women, were killed Thursday in an attack on a bus stop in Jerusalem -West led by two Palestinians affiliated with Hamas, according to the Israeli police.
The Palestinian movement, considered terrorist by the United States, the European Union and Israel in particular, said origin of the attack.
In a statement, Hamas indicated that the two attackers were members of its armed wing and originally from Sour Baher, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian part of the city occupied and annexed by Israel.
The Israeli police confirmed that the attackers, two brothers, had been shot dead.
Two Israeli soldiers were also lightly injured during a car-ramming attack on a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, according to the army.
Minutes before the truce expired on Thursday, the Israeli army announced that the “operational pause” would continue, saying it had received a new “list” of women and children to be released later.
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New exchange planned
Hamas had confirmed a “seventh day” of truce to last until 5:00 GMT on Friday, as had Qatar, the main mediator with the support of the United States and Egypt.
< p>A Hamas source, for its part, told AFP that the Islamist movement would release “ten Israelis, two of whom also have Russian nationality”, on Thursday, as part of the truce agreement.
The Israeli army also confirmed Thursday afternoon that two Israeli hostages were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Every day since this ceasefire came into force. temporary fire, Hamas releases around ten hostages in exchange for three times as many Palestinian detainees.
Some 240 people were taken hostage and taken to the Gaza Strip during the unprecedented attack of October 7, which left around 1,200 victims, according to Israeli authorities.
In retaliation, Israel promised to “annihilate” Hamas, shelling Palestinian territory and launching a ground offensive on October 27 that lasted until the start of the truce.
According to the Hamas government Hamas, more than 15,000 people, including at least 6,150 under the age of 18, died in Israeli strikes.
Very tough negotiations
On his third trip to the Middle East since the start of the conflict, Mr. Blinken tried to apply pressure to preserve the truce.
Arriving in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday afternoon to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he spoke earlier with Netanyahu and Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
Praising with the latter the pause agreement which “gave results”, he considered that “the events in Jerusalem today remind us of how Israel and Israelis face terrorism every day”.
< p>For his part, a Hamas source told AFP that “negotiations were very tough and continued all night” before the decision to extend the truce.
The hostages offered by Hamas Hamas “are all alive,” said this source, adding that Israel “refused last night a Hamas list including three bodies.”
The truce, initially started for four days then extended by two time, allowed the release of 70 Israeli hostages and 210 Palestinian prisoners.
Twenty-seven foreigners or dual nationals, mostly Thais working in Israel, were also released without agreement.
The sixth exchange of Palestinian prisoners for hostages from Hamas and other affiliated groups took place in the night from Wednesday to Thursday.
Ten Israeli hostages, including five dual nationals (a Dutchman, three Germans and an American), as well as two Russians and four Thais were released.
In exchange, thirty Palestinians (16 minors and 14 women) detained in several Israeli prisons were released.
“I can breathe”
Hadas Kalderon, mother of Franco-Israeli teenagers Erez and Sahar released on Monday, expressed her relief on the BFM television channel: “I can breathe, I can smile.”
However, she calls for “fighting so that their father (still held hostage) can return” and deplores that her sons have “had to face situations that no child, no adolescent, no adult should have to face.” confront.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, assured the international organization's Security Council that this war could end “tomorrow, even today » if “Hamas returns all the hostages and all the terrorists who participated in the massacre” of October 7.
Among the Palestinians released during the night were Ahed Tamimi, 22, an icon of the fight against the Israeli occupation. She was arrested on November 6 for an Instagram post that, according to Israeli sources, called for the massacre of Israelis and referred to Hitler.
Her mother Narimane, whose husband was also arrested, denies that Ahed is the author of this publication, her accounts on social networks being blocked by Israel.
Also just released, Lama Khater assured AFPTV that the officer who had released told him “we can arrest you again and the sentence will be more severe”.
“I would have preferred to die”
If the released prisoners were welcomed with joy, clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli security forces outside from Ofer prison, near Ramallah, in the West Bank.
A Palestinian was killed, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, which lists nearly 250 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers in West Bank since October 7.
The temporary ceasefire agreement has accelerated the entry of humanitarian aid, but it “is still totally insufficient,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres denounced on Wednesday, decrying “a monumental humanitarian catastrophe.” .
Already subject to an Israeli blockade since 2007, the Gaza Strip was placed under total siege by Israel on October 9.
According to the UN, 1.7 million of its 2.4 million inhabitants have been displaced by the war, with more than half of the homes damaged or destroyed.
Thousands of displaced people have taken advantage of the truce to return home to the north of the Gaza Strip, part of the most devastated territory, ignoring the ban of the Israeli army which took control of several sectors.
“If I had known that life in the south would be like this, I would not have left, I would have preferred to die,” Waed Taha, a Palestinian who left her home in northern Gaza, told AFP.