Though Israel and Hamas agreed to extend the ceasefire to a seventh day, bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians continued Thursday.
According to Israeli officials and Hamas alike, three civilians and two gunmen were killed during a small arms attack by Hamas at a crowded bus stop in Jerusalem. Several more people were wounded, though accounts differ on the number.
A video of that attack shows two gunmen, identified by Hamas as brothers Murad and Ibrahim Nimr, pulling up to a bus stop in a car. They stopped, got out and ran toward the crowd, one firing a Glock, another a rifle later identified as an AR-15 variant.
As the assailants tried to get back to their car, several armed Israelis opened fire at them. One approached the car from the street, another from the bus stop. Two other men, each wearing an Israeli Army uniform, grabbed weapons from their car that was driving by the bus stop when the gunfire broke out and engaged the Palestinians.
Hamas claimed credit for the shooting, saying in addition to the three Israelis killed, a dozen were wounded with varying injuries.
The three Israeli victims included a 24-year-old woman, a 60-year-old woman, and a 73-year-old man, according to Haaertz. The publication reported a different number of wounded than Hamas, saying it was six people - two of them seriously, three moderately, and one lightly.
The attack could have been much worse, an eyewitness said, but a large group of people boarded a bus and left the stop before Hamas opened fire.
In a separate incident, two IDF reserve soldiers were lightly injured in an attack at an IDF checkpoint near Beka'ot in the northern West Bank, Haaretz reported. Other soldiers at the scene shot and killed the driver.
In declaring its responsibility for "this heroic operation" at the bus stop, Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades said on Telegram it was carried out "within the responsibility of responding to the crimes of the occupation by killing children and women in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, and desecrating the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy sites, and a direct warning message against the violations practiced by Ben Ghafir and his gang against the male and female prisoners in Occupation prisons."
During his visit to Jerusalem today, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken mourned those killed in today's attacks.
The violence did not keep the two warring parties from continuing the ceasefire, but it took tense and lengthy negotiations to make that happen.
"A deal to extend a truce between Israel and Hamas into Thursday went down to the wire after Hamas declined for hours to produce a list of hostages that had 10 women and children on it – a condition that Israel insisted must be met," CNN reported.
The Israeli government ultimately agreed to a proposal for Hamas to release just eight Israeli hostages on Thursday and agreed to count two Israeli-Russian hostages who were set free on Wednesday as a part of Thursday’s release, according to CNN, citing multiple sources.
"After Israel rejected one iteration of Hamas’ list that had seven women and children and the bodies of three more who they claimed were killed by Israeli bombardment, Hamas continued to claim that it could not locate more women and children," CNN reported. "Hamas then proceeded to offer seven women and children, and three elderly people – also deemed unacceptable to the Israelis, one source said."
The negotiations have proven to be fluid, leaving open the possibility that the number of the hostages released on Thursday could change. The parties are now fully in a day-to-day extension phase of the truce, where Hamas must offer up a new list of 10 hostages in order to secure another 24 hours in the pause in fighting. However, "given the serious challenges that came up with Hamas claiming until the last minute that they were having trouble locating enough hostages, anxious negotiators are anticipating that the process of extending the truce into an eighth day could be very challenging," CNN noted.
The IDF said it was taking the situation "one day at a time."
Thursday evening local time, Red Cross representatives transferred two Israelis released by Hamas to Israel, where they are on their way to the Hatzerim Base, the IDF said on Telegram.
Though there is a pause in fighting in Gaza, the IDF on Thursday warned Gazans not to move north because it is still considered a war zone.
A joint investigative report by independent news outlets +972 Magazine and Local Call indicates that the Israeli Army's "expanded authorization for bombing non-military targets, the loosening of constraints regarding expected civilian casualties, and the use of an artificial intelligence system to generate more potential targets than ever before, appear to have contributed to the destructive nature of the initial stages of Israel’s current war on the Gaza Strip."
These factors, "as described by current and former Israeli intelligence members, have likely played a role in producing what has been one of the deadliest military campaigns against Palestinians since the Nakba of 1948," the report stated, Nakba is the Arabic word meaning "catastrophe" that many Palestinians use to describe the creation of Israel.
"The bombing of power targets, according to intelligence sources who had first-hand experience with its application in Gaza in the past, is mainly intended to harm Palestinian civil society: to 'create a shock' that, among other things, will reverberate powerfully and 'lead civilians to put pressure on Hamas,' as one source put it," the investigation found.
In her press briefing with reporters, including from The War Zone, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said she was not aware of the report. However, she said while the Pentagon has repeatedly urged Israel to avoid civilian casualties, Hamas makes that difficult.
“But let's be very clear,” she said. “Hamas is a terrorist organization that embeds deeply within civilian infrastructure and uses civilians as a way of shielding their operations. So they are making it incredibly difficult for the IDF to conduct their own operations.”
During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli War Cabinet in Jerusalem today, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed U.S. "support for Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorist violence in compliance with international humanitarian law and urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
Netanyahu and Blinken also spoke about the need to accelerate the delivery of critical, life-saving humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Blinken "stressed the imperative of accounting for humanitarian and civilian protection needs in southern Gaza before any military operations there and urged immediate steps to hold settler extremists accountable for violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. Secretary Blinken reiterated that the United States," Miller said.
Netanyahu told Blinken he remains intent on destroying Hamas.
Things remain calmer, but still unquiet along the Lebanese border. The IDF reported that it intercepted an unspecified object flying from the north into Israel on Thursday.
The U.K. has deployed the Type-45 destroyer HMS Diamond to the Persian Gulf region.
U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said “it’s critical the UK bolsters our presence in the region.
“Today’s deployment will strengthen the Royal Navy’s patrols, help to keep critical trade routes open and prove that our commitment to regional security not only endures but enhances,” Shapps said.
The vessel will join the frigate HMS Lancaster which deployed to the region last year, as well as three mine hunters and a support ship.
The U.S. Navy has deployed two carrier strike groups in response to this war. The Gerald R. Ford strike group is in the eastern Mediterranean Sea while the Dwight D. Eisenhower is in the Persian Gulf.
Images have emerged on social media of an explosion at a Houthi military base in Yemen. It remains unclear whether this was an accident or attack, and if it was an attack, who was behind it.
"I have seen the reports of an attack within Yemen," Singh told The War Zone. "I can tell you that it was not the US military that conducted that."
She later added she could not confirm there was an attack.
This is a developing story. We will update it when there is more news to report about the Israel-Hamas war.
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