Israel to release 39 Palestinian prisoners in hostage exchange deal

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Israel will on Friday release 39 Palestinians prisoners, among them 24 women and 15 teenagers, in the occupied West Bank in exchange for 13 hostages due to be freed from the Gaza Strip by Hamas, a Palestinian official said.

The prisoners, all of them from the occupied West Bank or Jerusalem, will be handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross at Israel's Ofer military jail around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT), said Qadura Fares, Palestinian commissioner for prisoners.

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An Israeli official also confirmed the Red Cross would help safely transport the hostages.

That would coincide with the planned handover at the Gaza-Egypt border of 13 women and children who were among some 240 people taken hostage by Hamas gunmen during a deadly Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel.

"After the Red Cross receives the (Palestinian) prisoners, the ones from Jerusalem will go to Jerusalem and the ones from the West Bank will gather in Betunia municipal council where their families will be waiting,” Fares told Reuters.

The prisoner release was part of an Israeli-Hamas ceasefire that began at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) and appeared to be holding shakily with no major reports of bombings, artillery strikes or rocket attacks, although both sides were accused of violations.

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