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Hamas Seeks 4-Day Ceasefire Extension as Hostages Tell of Brutal Treatment in Captivity

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JERUSALEM. Israel – The exchange of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners in Israel continues as a four-day ceasefire in Gaza now stretches into six days.

Hamas freed 12 more hostages, while Israel let 30 more Palestinian prisoners go free on the fifth day of the ceasefire. It is due to end on Wednesday, its sixth day, but negotiators are hoping for another extension.

Word is getting out about how hostage children were treated. The aunt of one child who has been freed says their captors forced them to watch videos of the October 7th massacres and ordered them to stop crying at gunpoint. She also says they also beat the children.

The father of nine-year-old freed hostage Emily Hand says she cries uncontrollably, and her captors made her stay so quiet she can now only whisper.

In Israel, a medical official overseeing freed hostages described the condition and the spirit of the adult females among them. Professor Itai Pessach, the director of Edmond & Lily Safra Children's Hospital, said they were "a group of extraordinary women that endured the hardships of their captivity in a remarkable fashion... some suffered injuries when they were abducted or during their time in captivity, but there's no immediate danger to any of them."

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Meanwhile, the Biden administration is leaning on Israel to go easier on southern Gaza than it has on the north when fighting resumes. The White House points out millions of Gazans fled south when the Israeli military attacked the north, so there's really nowhere else for those civilians to go. Surveys like AP polling show Americans still back Israel but worry about non-combatants in Gaza.

"The American people are broadly supportive of Israel's right to defend itself. There's also growing concern for the plight of civilians in Gaza," said Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller.

But since Hamas hides out among civilians, that could make it almost impossible for Israel to achieve its goal of destroying Hamas – a goal Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told troops fighting in Gaza they must achieve if Israelis are to ever feel safe and secure again.

In another development, Germany and the European Union are freezing funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency or UNRWA. The agency’s education programs for millions of Palestinian youth over the years are accused of teaching anti-Semitism and glorifying terrorism in its classroom materials.

A report by the watchdog group UN Watch profiles 118 UNRWA-educated Palestinians who went on to commit terrorist acts against Israel. The same report also shows a number of UNRWA teachers or workers celebrating the October 7th massacres. One said of the brutal attacks, "This is an unforgettable glorious morning."

Israel is fighting back with more than guns, tanks, and jets. There's also prayer. The Knesset, Israel's parliament, was the site of a Wednesday prayer meeting. Many Christians joined their Jewish brothers and sisters to pray.

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About The Author


As a freelance reporter for CBN's Jerusalem bureau and during 27 years as senior correspondent in CBN's Washington bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, government, and God’s providential involvement in our world. Strand began his tenure at CBN News in 1985 as an evening assignment editor in Washington, D.C. After a year, he worked with CBN Radio News for three years, returning to the television newsroom to accept a position as a senior editor in 1990. Strand moved back to the nation's capital in 1995 and then to