Hamas Releases 24 Hostages On First Day Of Ceasefire

During the initial day of the ceasefire in the seven-week-long war, Hamas fighters released 24 hostages, including Israeli women and children, as well as Thai farm workers.

The hostages were relocated from Gaza and delivered to Egyptian authorities at the Rafah border crossing. The transfer was facilitated by a four-car convoy, which included eight staff members from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Qatar, serving as the mediator for the truce agreement, reported the release of 13 Israelis, some with dual nationalities, along with 10 Thais and a Filipino. Additionally, 39 Palestinian women and children detainees were freed from Israeli jails.

The identities of the Israeli hostages were disclosed following their release. This group comprised four children, escorted by four family members, along with five other elderly women.

The Israeli military conducted an initial medical assessment of the hostages within Israeli territory. Subsequently, they were transported to Israeli hospitals to reunite with their families.

As part of the four-day Israel-Hamas truce terms, 50 women and children are set to be released over four days in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children from the thousands of detainees in Israeli jails. Israel has indicated that the truce’s duration could be extended if more hostages are released at a rate of ten per day.

On Friday, those set free were swapped for 24 incarcerated Palestinian women and 15 teenagers. Witnesses reported that, in at least three instances, Israeli police had conducted raids on the families’ homes in Jerusalem before the prisoners’ release. The police refrained from making any comments.

A source familiar with the negotiations indicated that the release of the Thai workers, all of whom were men, was independent of the truce discussions and followed a distinct track mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

Gunmen abducted approximately 240 hostages, including Thai and Filipino farmworkers working in southern Israel, during a killing spree launched by Hamas fighters on October 7. Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced in a social media post that 12 Thai workers had been liberated, two more than the figure reported by the Qataris. The reason for the discrepancy was not provided.

Earlier on Friday, the conflict between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters came to a temporary halt for the first time in seven weeks. No significant bombings, artillery strikes, or rocket attacks were reported, although both Hamas and Israel accused each other of occasional shootings and other violations. Both sides stated that the war would resume in full force once the truce concluded.