UK

Israel-Hamas truce extension offers further hope for hostages, says minister

Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell was speaking in the House of Commons (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell was speaking in the House of Commons (Stefan Rousseau/PA) Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell was speaking in the House of Commons (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A two-day extension of a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas offers the chance to free further hostages, a Foreign Office minister has said.

Andrew Mitchell received reports of the deal while answering questions in the House of Commons and having previously insisted that the pause in hostilities “should not be a one-off”.

Addressing the chamber, he said: “There is some suggestion that while I’ve been on my feet in the House, Qatar has announced a truce would be extended by two days.

“Obviously, we all hope that is true and that more hostages, as a result, will be able to leave.”

The Qatari government has said Israel and Hamas agreed to “extend the humanitarian pause” for two more days past Monday.

The announcement came on the final day of the original four-day truce between the warring sides, and raises the prospect of further exchanges of militant-held hostages for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari, in a post on X, formerly Twitter, said: “The State of Qatar announces, as part of the ongoing mediation, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian pause for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip.”

Humanitarian aid trucks arrive in Rafah on the Gaza -Egypt border
Humanitarian aid trucks arrive in Rafah on the Gaza -Egypt border Humanitarian aid trucks arrive in Rafah on the Gaza -Egypt border (Hatem Ali/AP)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had said the cessation of hostilities delivered “some relief after weeks of pain and suffering”, before insisting “more time is needed if we are to build on this progress”.

Speaking in the Commons, Labour MP Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) accused the UK Government of not contacting family members of hostages for “more than a month”.

Ms Creasy said: “This weekend, the immigration minister for this Government, on a public platform, said this Government would not rest until each and every one of the hostages is returned back to the loving embrace of their families.

“It is now more than a month since anybody at all from the UK Government has had any contact at all with the UK citizens who have family members as hostages. Not a single phone call.”

Ms Creasy said she had pleaded with ministers to ensure the families could have “just five minutes” of Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron’s time to discuss their cases.

She added: “It’s been other governments who have helped identify that their family members are alive.”

Mr Mitchell, in his reply, said: “My understanding is not the same as hers in respect of the British hostages.

“She will know over 200 British nationals and their dependants have so far left Gaza and we’re working around the clock to get the rest of those who want to leave out.

“But in terms of the hostages, my understanding is not the same as she has said.”