In a significant development in the Gaza conflict, the release of hostages has initiated a temporary halt in the violence. On Friday, 24 individuals held captive were safely transferred across the Rafah border, as reported by the Times of Israel citing Israeli officials.
This group of released hostages, comprised of at least 10 Thai nationals and 13 Israelis, was met by Red Cross personnel at the border. They were promptly attended to and transported via ambulance from Gaza into Egypt, with the Israeli hostages subsequently being moved to various hospitals in Israel for further care.
Qatar, playing a crucial role in brokering the cease-fire agreement, confirmed the release of 24 hostages in total, including 10 Thai and one Filipino citizen. This update follows an earlier statement from the Thai Foreign Ministry about the release of 12 Thai citizens by Hamas.
The Israeli government has officially confirmed the identities and ages of the Israeli hostages released. This release marks the beginning of a four-day ceasefire, a critical window in the recent hostilities. During this period, Hamas has agreed to free 50 women and children in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinians held by Israel. This exchange stems from the October 7th attack on Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office outlined the phased release of hostages over this four-day ceasefire. However, Israeli leaders, including Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, have expressed their intent to resume military actions against Hamas post-ceasefire, emphasizing their commitment to overthrow Hamas’s rule and ensure the safe return of all abductees.
The possibility of extending the ceasefire in exchange for the release of additional hostages has been proposed by officials. For each group of 10 hostages released, an extension of one day is considered.
According to Israeli estimates, Hamas, in the October 7th attack, took approximately 240 people hostage, holding them within Gaza. This conflict has led to a significant loss of life, with reports indicating over 1,200 Israelis killed by Hamas. In contrast, the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health claims nearly 13,000 civilian casualties due to Israeli military activities in Gaza.