- Web Desk
Hamas frees second group of Israeli, Thai hostages after delay
- Web Desk
- Nov 26, 2023
GAZA/JERUSALEM: Thirteen Israelis and four Thai nationals arrived in Israel on Sunday after a second release of hostages held by Hamas in an exchange deal for Palestinian prisoners despite a dispute about aid delivery into Gaza.
Although the issue was resolved through mediation by Egypt and Qatar, it delayed the release of captives and underscored the fragility of the four-day truce to swap 50 hostages held by the Palestinian militant group for 150 prisoners in Israeli jails.
A Palestinian official familiar with the truce efforts played down the threat it could collapse.
“There is no major threat to the agreement. Mediators are dealing with things on daily basis and hopefully the deal will be completed,” the official told Reuters.
The truce is the first halt in fighting since Hamas fighters rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages.
In response to that attack, Israel has vowed to destroy the Hamas militants who run Gaza, raining bombs and shells on the enclave and mounting a ground offensive in the north. Some 14,800 people, roughly 40% of them children, have been killed, Palestinian health authorities said on Saturday.
Television images showed freed hostages on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing after leaving Gaza as Hamas handed the captives to the International Committee of the Red Cross late on Saturday.
Six of the 13 Israelis released were women and seven were teenagers or children. The youngest was three-year-old Yahel Shoham, freed with her mother and brother, although her father remains a hostage.
“The released hostages are on their way to hospitals in Israel, where they will re-unite with their families,” the Israeli military said in a statement.
Israel released 39 Palestinians – six women and 33 minors – from two prisons, the Palestinian news agency WAFA said.
Some of the Palestinians arrived at Al-Bireh Municipality Square in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where thousands of citizens awaited them, a Reuters journalist said.
Violence flared in the West Bank where Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians, including two minors and at least one gunman, late on Saturday and early Sunday, medics and local sources said.
The West Bank has seen a surge of violence in parallel to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. More than 200 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, according to UN figures.