17 hostages freed by Hamas return to Israel « Khabarhub
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17 hostages freed by Hamas return to Israel


26 November 2023  

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Seventeen hostages were released by Hamas late Saturday and returned to Israel where they were taken to hospitals for observation and reunited with their families, the Israeli military said.

The joint announcement by the Israeli military and the Shin Bet security service came after the prime minister’s office said in a statement that the government “embraces the 17 hostages that are returning home, 13 of our citizens and 4 Thai citizens.”

Hamas’ armed wing earlier said it had handed over 13 Israelis and seven foreigners to the Red Cross. The reason for the discrepancy in the reported number of foreigners released was not immediately clear.

A video released by Hamas showed the hostages appearing shaken but mostly in good physical condition as masked militants led them to Red Cross vehicles headed out of Gaza.

Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization the U.S., U.K., EU and others.

The hostages were released hours later than expected after the militant group accused Israel of violating the exchange agreement, claims denied by Israeli officials.

Qatari and Egyptian mediators were able to address Hamas’ concerns and the hostages were finally released Saturday night on the second day of a fragile four-day cease-fire with Hamas.

Israel then freed 39 Palestinian prisoners early Sunday under the agreement.

Of the 13 released Israelis, there were seven children and six mothers. The children ranged in age from 3 to 16, and the women ranged from 18 to 67.

Although one of Israel’s preconditions for the swap was not to split the families of the abductees, at least two families from kibbutz Be’eri were split. A kibbutz spokesperson said all the released hostages either had a family member killed in the October 7 rampage or had left a loved one in captivity in Gaza.

Of the 39 Palestinian prisoners, 33 were children and six were women, a Qatari spokesperson said.

Television images showed prisoners being welcomed home.

The most prominent individual released was Israa Jaabis, 38, who was convicted of a checkpoint bombing attack in 2015 that wounded a police officer. She suffered burns and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant went to the Gaza Strip on Saturday for an operational assessment. He met with commanders and soldiers and discussed using the pause to prepare to resume ground operations once the hostages are all free.

“We cannot leave Gaza and stop the war until we reach a situation in which we bring back all the hostages — because we have many more [held captive],” he said

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke Saturday afternoon with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and was briefed throughout Saturday on the latest of the hostage deal implementation, spokesperson Adrienne Watson for the White House National Security Council said.

Hours earlier, the armed wing of Hamas said, Israel had not met all the truce conditions, including allowing all promised aid trucks into northern Gaza.

Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan said only 65 of 340 aid trucks that had entered Gaza since Friday had reached northern Gaza, which was “less than half of what Israel agreed on.”

Qadura Fares, the Palestinian commissioner for prisoners, also said Israel had failed to fulfill the terms of the Palestinian prisoner releases based on seniority.

Avi Dichter, a member of Israel’s security Cabinet, told Channel 13 News that Israel was “abiding by the deal” with Hamas that Qatar had mediated.

The U.N. said the pause allowed it to increase its humanitarian assistance into and across Gaza.

On Friday, 200 trucks were sent from Nitzana to the Rafah crossing, and 137 trucks of goods were offloaded at the reception point in Gaza by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East.

Four tanks of fuel and four tanks of cooking gas were transferred from Egypt to U.N. humanitarian aid organizations in the southern Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing. The fuel and cooking gas are designated for operating essential humanitarian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement that 61 trucks of aid were delivered to northern Gaza on Saturday, the largest number since October 7. They included food, water and emergency medical supplies.

Eleven ambulances, three coaches and a flatbed were delivered to Shifa Hospital to assist with evacuations.

Another 200 trucks were dispatched from Nitzana and 187 of them entered Gaza by 7 p.m. local time. In addition, 129,000 liters of fuel crossed into Gaza, the U.N. statement said.

For many of the 2.3 million people who live in the Gaza Strip, the pause in the near-constant air and artillery strikes has offered a first chance to safely move around, take stock of the devastation, and seek access to the humanitarian aid pouring into Gaza.

Over the course of the cessation in fighting, Hamas is to release at least 50 hostages, and Israel 150 Palestinian prisoners, as part of an agreement struck during talks involving Israel, Palestinian militant groups, Qatar, Egypt and the United States.

Israel said the four-day stop in fighting would be extended an extra day for every 10 additional hostages freed by Hamas. A Qatari spokesperson said Doha hopes to broker another agreement to release more hostages from Gaza by the cease-fire’s fourth day.

“Chances are real” for an extension of the temporary halt to the war, Biden said in Friday remarks. He added that two American women and a 4-year-old American child remain among those missing.

(VOA)

Publish Date : 26 November 2023 08:23 AM

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