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GAZA: Hamas started handing over more Israeli hostages on Tuesday to the International Committee of the Red Cross, a Palestinian official said, on the fifth day of an extended six-day truce in the Gaza war.

The Palestinian group is expected to release at least 10 hostages on Tuesday under the terms of the truce agreement.

According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, a semi-official organisation, Israel in return is expected later on Tuesday to free 30 Palestinian detainees - 15 women and 15 men.

Hamas had released 50 Israeli hostages as of Monday night as well as 19 foreigners, mostly Thai farmworkers. Israel has so far released 150 prisoners prior to Tuesday’s moves.

The hostages were among some 240 people seized by Hamas gunmen during a rampage into southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which they killed 1,200 people.

Israel reviews list of hostages set to be freed by Hamas on Saturday

The truce has brought Gaza its first respite after seven weeks of intensive Israeli bombardment.

The truce had been due to expire overnight into Tuesday but both sides agreed to extend the pause to allow for the release of more hostages held by Hamas and of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Gaza health authorities say more than 15,000 people have been confirmed killed in Israel’s bombardment of the territory, around 40% of them children, with many more dead feared to be lost under rubble.

Israel has said the truce could be prolonged further, provided Hamas continues to free at least 10 Israeli hostages per day. But with fewer women and children still in captivity, keeping the guns quiet beyond Wednesday may require negotiating to free at least some Israeli men for the first time.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces and Hamas largely held their fire and both sides expressed their hope for further extensions of the pause in fighting that has reduced much of the Gaza Strip to a desolate moonscape.

More than two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have lost their homes, with thousands of families sleeping rough in makeshift shelters with only the belongings they could carry.

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