Hamas releases 13 Israeli, at least 10 Thai hostages as cease-fire holds
The militant group Hamas initiated a hostage release, marking the beginning of a four-day exchange that temporarily halted the conflict in Gaza.
On Friday, 23 hostages were moved out of Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, as reported by Israeli officials to the Times of Israel.
Red Cross personnel oversaw the release of 10 Thai nationals and 13 Israelis, who were transported by ambulance from Gaza to Egypt. Subsequently, the Israeli hostages were anticipated to be further transported to Israel for medical care at different hospitals.
Qatar, a significant participant in the cease-fire negotiations, reported the release of 23 hostages as part of the agreement. This included 10 Thai citizens and one Filipino citizen. Initially, the Thai Foreign Ministry had stated that Hamas released 12 Thai citizens.
As part of the agreed four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group has committed to releasing 50 women and children, who were taken in the October 7 attack on Israel. In return, Israel will release 150 Palestinians currently held in its prisons.
Officials have floated the idea that the ceasefire can be extended another day for each additional group of 10 hostages released.
Hamas terrorists are believed to have taken some 240 people captive in the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel and are holding them in Gaza.
The release of hostages is scheduled over a four-day period starting Friday, as outlined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
Following the ceasefire, Israeli leaders have pledged to resume the conflict. Foreign Minister Eli Cohen stated during a tour of Israel’s affected border areas with counterparts from Portugal and Slovenia on Friday, “Israel will persist in its campaign against Hamas, pursuing our primary objectives of toppling Hamas’s rule and securing the safe return of all abductees.”
Reportedly, over 1,200 Israelis have lost their lives in the conflict, according to Israeli sources. In contrast, the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health claims nearly 13,000 civilian casualties resulting from Israeli military activities in Gaza.