As Hamas managed to extend the ceasefire with Israel, Iranian officials are ratcheting up their rhetoric to exert pressure on Israel to accept longer paused.
Former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaie issued a warning on Monday, stating, "If Israel initiates war, there will be no obstacle or excuse left for the free people of the world to seek harsh revenge."
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized over the weekend that when the truce ends, Israel will “return with full force to achieve our goals: the elimination of Hamas," the only reason there is a pause in fighting to secure the release of the hostages.
The current round of fighting in Gaza is the worst since Hamas took control of the strip in 2007, and began on October 7 when Iran-backed Hamas militia invaded Israel, murdering at least 1,200 mainly civilians and taking at least 240 more hostage.
Iranian officials have consistently supported Hamas since the October 7 terror attack and its proxies have stepped up activities from Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.
Mediator Qatar said on Monday a truce between Israeli and Hamas forces in Gaza had been extended by two days, continuing a pause in seven weeks of warfare.
The total number of hostages released by the militant group since Friday is 58, including foreigners. In return, Israel freed 39 teenage Palestinian prisoners on Sunday, bringing the total number of Palestinians released under the truce to 117.Under the terms of the current deal, Hamas is due to release in total 50 Israeli women and children held hostage in Gaza. There is no limit in the deal on the number of foreigners it can release.
An Israeli government spokesperson said the total number of hostages still held in Gaza on Monday was 184, including 14 foreigners and 80 Israelis with dual nationality.