Hamas releases more Israeli, foreign hostages on second day of Gaza truce

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Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Hamas handed over 13 Israeli hostages and four foreigners to the International Committee of the Red Cross on Saturday night. It will be remembered that the agreement to release the prisoners who were held hostage by the mediation of Qatar and Egypt was interrupted for a short time.

People take part in a show of solidarity for those held hostage in the Gaza Strip. (AP)

A Gaza hostage deal is back on track after a temporary delay over aid delivery in the besieged north.

“13 Israelis and 4 foreigners were received by the ICRC and were on their way to Rafah,” said Majid Al Ansari, spokesman for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on social media X, formerly known as Twitter.

TV images showed Red Cross vehicles at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Read | Joe Biden ‘Don’t Know’ When Hamas Will Release American Hostages

A Palestinian official familiar with the diplomacy said Hamas would continue with a four-day truce with Israel, the first in a seven-week war.

Al-Ansari said earlier that 39 Palestinian civilians would be freed after a short delay and setback caused by the release of the hostages in Qatar and Egypt’s relations with both sides.

Eight children and five women are expected to be among the Israeli hostages, Al-Ansari said. The Palestinians to be released from Israeli prisons are 33 children and 6 women.

US President Joe Biden has spoken with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani about hostage negotiations, White House National Security Council spokesman Adrian Watson said. Watson added that 3-1/2 hours after making their call, the White House learned from the Qataris that the deal had been reneged on and that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was moving to collect the hostages.

Read | Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages on the 1st day. who are they?

The armed wing of Hamas earlier said it had pledged to release aid trucks to northern Gaza until Israel met all the conditions for a second round of hostage releases scheduled for Saturday.

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

Al-Qassam Brigades also said that Israel has failed to honor the terms of the release of Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian Prisoners’ Commissioner Qadura Fares said Israel did not release prisoners on a large scale.

Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter, a member of Israel’s security cabinet, told Channel 13 News that Israel is honoring the Qatar-brokered deal with Hamas.

Israel says it has deployed 50 trucks of food, water, shelter and medical supplies to UN-controlled northern Gaza, the first significant aid since the war began.

A brief standoff at the demonstration raised concerns over the smooth implementation of the accords held hostage by Hamas after the release of 13 Israeli women and children. Some 39 Palestinian women and teenagers have been released from Israeli prisons.

Read | A Thai mother danced with joy as her son was released from Gaza.

Israeli army spokesman Olivier Rafovitch told French television that Israel was strictly abiding by the truce and that its troops had not carried out any attacks or attacks in Gaza on Saturday.

Is the truss extended?

A total of 50 hostages are to be exchanged for 150 Palestinian prisoners in a four-day truce, the first ceasefire since Hamas fighters swept through southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages.

In response to that attack, Israel has vowed to destroy the Hamas militants who rule Gaza, raining bombs and shells on the area and launching a ground offensive in the north. So far, about 14,800 people have been killed, 40% of them children, Palestinian health officials reported on Saturday.

Egypt, which controls the Rafah border crossing where aid supplies returned to southern Gaza before the latest hostage and prisoner exchange was delayed, said it had received “positive signals” from all parties that the truce could be extended.

Israel says the ceasefire may be extended if Hamas continues to release at least 10 hostages a day. A Palestinian source said up to 100 hostages could be freed.

Dancing for joy

The brief delay in the implementation of the peace accord was contrasted with scenes of joy as the hostages were reunited with their families that day.

After nearly 50 days in captivity in Gaza, nine-year-old Ohad Munder collapsed in a hospital corridor in Israel and ran into his father’s arms, footage released by the hospital shows.

Gilat Livni, the center’s pediatric director, told reporters that he and three other children released at the same time were doing relatively well.

“They shared experiences, we were with them until the evening and it was interesting, annoying and inspiring,” Livini said.

Another hostage, four-year-old Raz Asher, said she sat in her father’s arms in a hospital bed after she and her mother and younger sister were freed. “Now the dream has come true,” replied her father Yoni.

But for the Palestinians, their joy was bittersweet when prisoners were released from Israeli prisons. Israeli police were seen searching Sousa Bakr’s home shortly before her 24-year-old daughter Mara was released. The Israeli police declined to comment.

“There is no real joy, we feel even this little joy when we wait,” said Susan Becker. “We’re still afraid to feel joy,” she says.

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