Update(1504ET): More positive developments out of Gaza after Israel and Hamas negotiated to extend the truce deal by at least two more days:
The Israel Defense Forces says the 12 hostages — 10 Israelis and two Thai nationals — released from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip are now in Israeli territory, and are being escorted by special forces and members of the Shin Bet security agency.
“After they undergo an initial medical assessment of their health, our forces will accompany them until they are reunited with their families,” the IDF says.
The IDF asks the public to “demonstrate patience and sensitivity during this time out of respect for the released hostages and their families.”
And on the other side of the deal, 30 more Palestinian prisoners were freed:
Attacks on US bases in Syria & Iraq have largely ceased during truce period...
Elsewhere in the region, the Iran-aligned militant groups which previously carried out dozens of drone and rocket attacks on US bases in Syria and Iraq appear to have ceased. These attacks by and large grew silent after the truce went into effect last Friday.
To me the reason is fairly obvious. Hamas wants to drag this on for as long as possible, keep leverage until the end, and is thus purposefully separating families, and keeping the hostages with the most "emotional charge" (particulary the 10-months-old Bibas baby) for the end -… https://t.co/Qp7wofYT03— Michael A. Horowitz (@michaelh992) November 28, 2023
* * *
Talks are still underway to extend the Hamas-Israel truce yet further, after both sides agreed Monday to initially extend it by two days. But it's widely expected that Israel will restart its ground and aerial assault at some point soon, also given the Israeli military has already said Hamas has violated the terms of the pause in fighting.
"The Israel Defense Forces says a number of soldiers are lightly hurt after being attacked by Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip, in what appears to be the first serious violation of the ceasefire," Times of Israel reports Tuesday. "Hamas accuses the IDF of violating the ceasefire first."
Specifically multiple IEDs were said to have been set off near Israeli forces, also accompanied by gunfire from Hamas position. Thus the ongoing ceasefire is tenuous to say the lest.
As recently as Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that Israel won't waiver from its goal of completely destroying Hamas.
But Washington has begun to voice new objections amid the soaring Palestinian death toll, which has reportedly reached 15,000 - according to Palestinian sources. The Israeli government has disputed these figures, and President Biden himself has been on record as suggesting the Palestinian side has exaggerated civilian deaths. In late October he said:
"I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed," Biden replied. "I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war."
The Biden administration has reiterated its warnings that Israel must be more surgical in its airstrikes. The US has also told Israel that the kind of mass civilian displacement that happened in the northern half of the Strip over the past seven weeks must not be replicated in the south.
The New York Times has called the warnings and restrictions the strongest from the White House to date concerning Israel's next phase of fighting:
The United States has warned Israel that it must fight more surgically and avoid further mass displacement of Palestinians in its war against Hamas to avoid a humanitarian crisis that overwhelms the world’s ability to respond, according to senior Biden administration officials.
The White House has told Israel that replicating the scale of its bombardment in northern Gaza as it makes an expected push into southern Gaza once the recent pause in fighting ends would produce a crisis beyond the capacity of any humanitarian support network, the officials said on Monday night. The United Nations has said the fighting has already displaced most of Gaza’s population of 2.2 million.
Per the reporting, the White House wants Israel to agree to not attack "areas of deconfliction" - especially UN shelters, which have previously been hit by bombardments.
"You cannot have the sort of scale of displacement that took place in the north, replicated in the south," a US official was reported as saying to Israeli counterparts on a phone call. The IDF has previously warned it will open full operations even in the South, and has dropped leaflets in certain southern towns telling Gazans to evacuate.
⚡️Hamas publishes footage of the release of the fourth batch of Israeli detainees in the Gaza Strip as part of the humanitarian truce pic.twitter.com/wPf8fs1pyO— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) November 27, 2023
Pressure and scrutiny have increased on President Biden as he heads into the election next November. As we detailed previously, The New York Times reported Saturday that Israel is killing Palestinian civilians in Gaza at a historic pace. The huge civilian death toll in Gaza is explained by the scale of the bombing campaign and Israel’s willingness to drop US-provided 2,000-pound bombs on densely populated areas that are packed with civilians.
Of course, there's absolutely nothing "surgical" of about these US-supplied heavy bombs at all - and yet the US administration has still refused to place 'conditions' on Israel's usage of supplied weaponry. However clearly the discussions have at least begun over potential new conditions.