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Israel says it has resumed combat operations as truce with Hamas expires: Live updates

Editor's Note: For the latest news on the Israel-Hamas conflict, please see our live updates file here.

The temporary truce between Israel and Hamas expired Friday with the Israeli military announcing it has resumed combat in Gaza, blaming Hamas for violating the deal.

The Israel Defense Forces said it "resumed combat against the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza" and accused Hamas of violating the truce by firing toward Israel. About 30 minutes after the truce expired, the Israeli military said its fighter jets were striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier Friday, there had been no word from mediator Qatar on another extension and the Israeli military said its aerial defense system intercepted a rocket launched from Gaza. Hamas did not immediately comment.

The halt in fighting began a week ago, on Nov. 24. It initially lasted for four days, and then was extended for several days with the help of Qatar and fellow mediator Egypt. Representatives of Qatar, Egypt, and the U.S. have toiled for weeks, trying to bring calm to the region, helping create a four-day cease-fire that has lasted a week.

Both sides appeared to struggle to agree on how to continue the daily exchanges of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Hamas released eight Israeli prisoners Thursday, two fewer than the agreed-upon daily number but still averaging out to 10 a day over the cease-fire extensions after 12 were freed Wednesday. As part of the deal, another group of Palestinian women and children was let out of Israeli prisons early Friday, hours before the truce ended.

“If we can achieve the release of more hostages, then of course we’re open to extending this humanitarian pause in the fighting,'' Mark Regev, senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN. "But without that, we’re going back to the combat to defeat Hamas.’'

Truce extended a day: A reprieve, minutes before pact was set to expire

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men gather around the body of Rabbi Elimelech Wasserman during his funeral in Jerusalem on Nov. 30, 2023. Wasserman and at least two other people were killed and several others wounded in a shooting attack in Jerusalem. Police said the two attackers from east Jerusalem were killed.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men gather around the body of Rabbi Elimelech Wasserman during his funeral in Jerusalem on Nov. 30, 2023. Wasserman and at least two other people were killed and several others wounded in a shooting attack in Jerusalem. Police said the two attackers from east Jerusalem were killed.

Developments:

∎ Israeli officials say Gaza militants still hold more than 20 women and children, who would all be freed in a few days if the truce is extended and the rate of 10 releases per day continued. Israel says around 125 men are still is captivity, including several dozen soldiers. A total of 107 hostages have been released during the cease-fire, 83 of them Israelis, including dual nationals.

∎ Israeli President Isaac Herzog, in Dubai for the U.N. climate conference, said he met with Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, urging the president of the United Arab Emirates to use his “full diplomatic weight” to help bring the hostages home.

∎ Hamas leaders issued a call for supporters to hold marches in cities, capitals and squares around the world Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a show of solidarity "until the aggression and heinous massacres against our children and defenseless civilians stop."

∎ Ofir Tzarfati, who was believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas while celebrating his 27th birthday at a music festival Oct. 7, has been found dead, the Israeli military said. The army did not specify where his body was identified.

∎ Israeli gunboats bombed large areas near the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis in violation of the truce, the West Bank-based media outlet Al-Ayyam reported. It said tanks also targeted displaced Palestinians in northern Gaza, wounding at least two people.

Blinken presses Netanyahu on protecting civilians

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Jerusalem on Thursday for meetings with Netanyahu and the Israeli War Cabinet, reaffirming U.S. support for Israel’s right to protect itself “in compliance with international humanitarian law” and urging Israel to avoid harm to civilians.

Blinken and Netanyahu discussed efforts to secure the release of all remaining hostages and the need to accelerate delivery of desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza, the State Department said in a statement.

“The secretary stressed the imperative of accounting for humanitarian and civilian protection needs in southern Gaza before any military operations there,” the statement said. It said Blinken also urged “immediate steps” to hold extremist Israeli settlers accountable for violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

The Biden administration has been steadfast in its support of the Israeli military’s offensive, prompted by the stunning Oct. 7 Hamas attack into Israel. But Netanyahu and the U.S. have faced increasing global criticism as the Palestinian death toll mounts, and the U.S. has been a leader in talks that forged a weeklong truce and the release of scores of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners.

Netanyahu again made it clear the temporary truce does not mean long-term peace is near. The prime minister noted the meeting with Blinken took place hours after militants killed three people in a shooting rampage in Jerusalem.

“It is the same Hamas that perpetrated the terrible massacre on Oct. 7, and the same Hamas that is trying to murder us everywhere,” Netanyahu said on social media. “I told (Blinken) we have sworn, I have sworn, to eliminate Hamas. Nothing will stop us.”

Six more Israelis released, eight for the day

Six more hostages held by Hamas were released to the Red Cross late Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said, raising to eight the number let go under the latest truce renewal.

Earlier Thursday, Israeli authorities said Mia Schem, 21, and Amit Soussana, 40, were handed over to the Red Cross by militants.

Schem, a French-Israeli who appeared in a video released by Hamas earlier in the war, works at a tattoo parlor and is known as an old soul with a fighting spirit, her family told the Hostage and Missing Families Forum. The group said Schem's friend Elia Toledano who was also kidnapped and is still being held captive.

French President Emmanuel Macron celebrated Schem's release in a tweet, saying, “I share this great joy with her family and all French people.”

Soussana is a lawyer with three cats who enjoys music and plays tennis in her free time, her family said. She lived by herself in Kibbutz Kfar Aza when she was kidnapped while hiding in the shelter in her home.

Kim Hjelmgaard

US has scant information on last American woman hostage

The Biden administration has no information about the whereabouts and condition of the last American woman believed to be under Hamas captivity in Gaza, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Thursday.

The White House has not revealed the woman’s name, but Judith Weinstein Haggai – a 70-year-old Israeli American dual citizen who went missing Oct. 7 with her husband near their Kibbutz Nir Oz home – has not been listed among hostages released.

Kirby said the U.S. believes other groups in addition to Hamas might be holding hostages, although Hamas might still have information about them.

More than 100 women and children held as hostages – including two Americans – have been freed from Gaza during Israel’s pause in fighting with Hamas. Seven Americans and one permanent resident remain in Gaza. They are all adult males except one. The Israel-Hamas hostage agreement was extended for a seventh day Thursday.

“We're working on it literally by the hour to see if we can get this seventh day turned into an eighth, ninth and 10th and beyond,” Kirby said.

− Joey Garrison

Fragile peace, optimism but plenty of concerns

"Optimism" is the word John Lyndon repeatedly uses, believing a tenuous truce in the Israel-Hamas war can be extended even longer. The executive director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace, a coalition of about 170 organizations worldwide working toward peace building, particularly with Israelis and Palestinians, Lyndon calls the release of hostages by Hamas "silver linings." A continuous caravan of humanitarian aid trucks into the Gaza Strip is an "incredibly positive sign," he said. Yet, Lyndon wishes even more could be done to stop the violence.

""We’re still uncertain about what's going to happen next," said Lyndon, one of several experts on war, terror and peace contacted by USA TODAY. Read more here.

Terry Collins

How will war end? Peacemakers hope Hamas-Israel truce previews war's endgame

Israel says more than 2,000 soldiers have been wounded in war

More than 2,000 soldiers have been wounded since the war began with the deadly Hamas invasion into Israeli communities bordering Gaza, the Israeli military said. It was the first time the military has provided statistics on the wounded. The announcement coincided with the annual National Day of Appreciation for Israel’s Wounded Soldiers and Victims of Terror. About 80 soldiers have been killed in the fighting.

Israeli authorities say the militants who crashed across the border Oct. 7 killed 1,200 people and took about 240 back to Gaza as hostages. The Gaza Health Ministry says more than 13,000 Palestinians have been killed since then as Israel presses its military mission to crush Hamas.

Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Israel Hamas war updates: Combat operations resume as truce expires