Israel Palestine Conflict

Israel, Hamas release prisoners and hostages as part of truce agreement

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A total of 24 hostages -- 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and one Filipino -- were handed over Friday to the Red Cross in Gaza by Hamas as part of a truce agreement between Israel and Hamas, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman said.

“Those released include 13 Israeli citizens, some of whom are dual citizens, in addition to 10 Thai citizens and a Filipino citizen,” Majed al-Ansari said.

He said that 39 women and children detained in Israeli jails had also been freed under a deal to exchange hostages seized by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners.

A Palestinian NGO also said Friday that 39 prisoners had been released by Israeli authorities under a truce agreement to pause the fighting in Gaza.

A total of 28 prisoners were released in the occupied West Bank, an AFP correspondent saw, while the other 11 were on their way to annexed east Jerusalem.

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The 13 Israeli hostages freed from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip have been returned to Israel where they were undergoing medical checks, the military said on Friday, at the end of the first day of a planned four-day truce.

Four children and relatives were included with another five elderly women, a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

“The government of Israel embraces its civilians who returned home. The government of Israel is committed to returning all the hostages and missing,” it said.

The International Red Cross confirmed on Friday that its teams had started carrying out a multi-day operation to facilitate the release and transfer of hostages held in Gaza and of Palestinian detainees.

“The deep pain that family members separated from their loved ones feel is indescribable. We are relieved that some will be reunited after long agony,” said Fabrizio Carboni, the International Committee of the Red Cross’s regional director for the Near and Middle East.

Posters featuring a picture with the word 'kidnapped' are placed on a wall as the families and supporters of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas gather to raise awareness and demand their immediate release in Tel Aviv, Israel November 22, 2023. (Reuters)
Posters featuring a picture with the word 'kidnapped' are placed on a wall as the families and supporters of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas gather to raise awareness and demand their immediate release in Tel Aviv, Israel November 22, 2023. (Reuters)

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said 12 Thai hostages kidnapped by Palestinian militants during Hamas’s October 7 raids into Israel were released on Friday, hours after a truce in the Israel-Hamas war began.

“It has been confirmed by the security side and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that 12 Thai hostages are already released,” he posted on X.

“Embassy officials are on their way to pick them up in another hour. Their names and details should be known. Please stay tuned.”

A total of 25 Thai nationals were among the estimated 240 people taken hostage by gunmen during last month’s wave of cross-border raids into Israel.

A source close to Hamas confirmed some Thai hostages held in the Gaza Strip had been freed on Friday, in addition to hostages released under a ceasefire deal with Israel.

“Hamas made a gesture to also release some Thai foreigners,” the source close to the militant movement told AFP.

The Thai hostages were released in a separate agreement mediated by Qatar and Egypt with Hamas, an official briefed on the talks said, adding that the hostages were all men and were not covered by the truce deal with Israel that relates to women and children.

The separate negotiation track was opened when Thailand’s foreign minister visited Qatar on Oct. 31, which led to a specific agreement with Hamas to release the Thais, the official added.

Israeli security forces stand next to buses waiting at the helipad of Tel Aviv's Schneider medical centre on November 24, 2023, amid preparations for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners later in the day. (AFP)
Israeli security forces stand next to buses waiting at the helipad of Tel Aviv's Schneider medical centre on November 24, 2023, amid preparations for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners later in the day. (AFP)

Egypt was preparing to receive a number of Israeli hostages that will be released by Palestinian militant group Hamas as part of a truce and hostage swap deal agreed with Israel under Qatari and Egyptian mediation, Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) said in a statement earlier on Friday.

“Egypt’s mediation efforts have yielded the release of 12 Thai hostages and 13 Israelis, including women and children, held by Hamas,” the government media office had said.

The motorcade carrying bodies of Thai migrant agricultural workers who were killed in an attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel, leaves Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand, October 20, 2023. (Reuters)
The motorcade carrying bodies of Thai migrant agricultural workers who were killed in an attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel, leaves Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand, October 20, 2023. (Reuters)

Israel is set to release three times as many Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails -- women and teenage boys -- under the terms of the deal reach with Hamas.

Hamas broke through Gaza’s militarized border with Israel on October 7 to kill, according to Israeli officials, about 1,200 people and seize around 240 Israeli and foreign hostages.

Israel has vowed to “crush” Hamas in response and unleashed a withering military campaign that Gaza’s Hamas government says has killed nearly 15,000 people in the coastal territory.

With agencies

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