Hamas said on Saturday night that its armed wing had handed over 13 Israeli hostages and four foreign nationals to the International Red Cross.
The hostages have been handed over to the Red Cross, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Saturday. The 17 hostages are on their way to Rafah, he added.
Hamas earlier confirmed that the second release under a truce agreement of Israeli hostages captured in the October 7 attacks will go ahead after a delay.
Hamas had “responded positively” to Egyptian and Qatari mediators to ensure the continuation of the truce agreement, it said in a statement, after they relayed a promise by Israel to “uphold all the conditions of the accord.”
“After a delay, obstacles to release of prisoners were overcome through Qatari-Egyptian contacts with both sides, and 39 Palestinian civilians will be released tonight, while 13 Israeli hostages will leave Gaza in addition to 7 foreigners,” foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Hamas announced on Saturday its appreciation for Qatari- and Egyptian-led efforts at ensuring the continuation of a temporary truce agreement between the group and Israel that began on Friday.
Hamas said in a statement that the Egyptian and Qatari parties had confirmed Israel’s commitment to all the terms and conditions of the agreement.
The armed wing of Hamas earlier said it was delaying the handover of a second group of hostages due to be released under a truce deal until Israel “adheres to the terms of the agreement.”
The entry of humanitarian aid to the north of the Gaza Strip and the selection criteria for the liberation of prisoners were the issues in question, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades had said in a statement.
Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, had told the Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen TV channel that the suspension was due to violations of the truce committed by Israel “linked to aid (entering Gaza), in addition to shootings and the rising death toll ... Some of (these violations) happened yesterday, and repeated today,” Hamdan said.
Israeli authorities had said earlier that 14 hostages being held in the Gaza Strip following the Hamas attacks on October 7 would be released on Saturday, as well as 42 Palestinian prisoners, on the second day of a truce deal.
Prison authorities said 42 prisoners -- both male and female -- would be freed under the terms of the agreement, which mandates exchanges at a ratio of three to one, and an Israeli official source said 14 hostages would be handed over.
Egypt has received a list from Hamas of 14 hostages to be released on Saturday, Reuters reported earlier on Saturday, citing security sources.