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Work ongoing on further extension of ceasefire in Gaza war: US

The U.S. government is working on a further extension of the ceasefire between Palestinian Islamist organisation Hamas and Israel in the Gaza war.

The pause in fighting, which came into effect on Friday and was initially set to last four days, has been extended by another two days under the previously negotiated conditions.

It is unclear whether it can be extended further.

“If there be extended pauses beyond this two-day extension, then you know we’re in favor of that and we’re going to keep working on this,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday.

“We want to see all the hostages out,” Mr Kirby said.

“One way to do that is these pauses, you need to pause to get the hostages out, you need the hostages out to get the pause I mean they go hand in hand. And so we’re going to keep working with Israel with Qatar with Egypt, to see if we can extend this more,” he added.

The current extended ceasefire is set to last until Thursday morning.

The U.S. government also hopes that even more hostages with U.S. citizenship will be released in the future, said Mr Kirby.

So far, a four-year-old American girl who witnessed the murder of her parents in the Hamas massacre in Israel has been among those released.

Washington believes two other women with U.S. citizenship are among the people being held.

A further seven U.S. citizens are believed to be missing – it is not clear if all of them are among the hostages.

Mr Kirby said, “There’s no indication that Hamas is trying to, to play some sort of game here in terms of the Americans. I mean I think it’s important to remember a couple of things. One, the pool of Americans is pretty small. And the pool of Americans that qualify right now and women and children is smaller still.”

So far 81 hostages, including 61 Israeli nationals, have been released from Gaza since the beginning of the truce.

In exchange, 180 Palestinian prisoners have been released from Israeli prisons.

(dpa/NAN)