U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters the United States was working with Israel, Qatar and Egypt to try to secure another extension.
“We want to see all the hostages out. The way to do that is these pauses,” Kirby said.
The original deal called for four days of Israel pausing its campaign to eradicate the Hamas militant group, with Hamas releasing 50 hostages it seized during an attack on Israel last month and Israel setting free 150 Palestinian prisoners. The pause also allowed for increased humanitarian aid to reach the battered Gaza Strip.
A two-day extension was added under the terms of Hamas releasing 10 more hostages per day and Israel freeing additional prisoners.
The Israeli military said 12 hostages who were held in Gaza — 10 Israelis and two foreign nationals — were driven to Israel late Tuesday in the latest round of releases. In turn, Israel freed 30 Palestinian prisoners — 15 women and 15 young men from a West Bank prison and a Jerusalem detention center, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, a semi-official organization.
Hamas militants seized about 240 people during their rampage into southern Israel on October 7 in which they killed about 1,200 people. In its counteroffensive, Israel has killed more than 15,000 people, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.
The truce has brought Gaza its first quiet after six weeks of intensive Israeli aerial bombardment and a ground offensive prompted by the Hamas attack.
With the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the United Nations estimates 1.8 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes with many staying in overcrowded shelters. Shelter Network, a U.N.-led aid consortium, said in a report Friday that more than 60% of Gaza’s housing stock had been damaged or destroyed.
The World Health Organization warned Tuesday about the high risk of “explosive outbreaks of infectious diseases” amid the overcrowded conditions and the disruption of health, water and sanitation systems in Gaza.
On the diplomatic front, the U.N. Security Council was due to hold a meeting Wednesday focused on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was also expected to travel to the region late Wednesday, according to a senior State Department official.
Blinken has visited Israel multiple times on his previous two trips to the region since the Israel-Hamas war began.
In his meetings in the Middle East, Blinken “will stress the need to sustain the increased flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, secure the release of all hostages, and improve protections for civilians in Gaza,” a senior State Department official said.
VOA State Department bureau chief Nike Ching and White House correspondent Anita Powell contributed to this article. Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.