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Second Group of Hostages Released After Hours-Long Delay; Cease-Fire Holds

Late Saturday night, a second group of 17 hostages who had been held captive in Gaza since the October 7 terror attack on Israel were released as part of a temporary cease-fire agreement brokered by the U.S., Qatar, and Egypt.

Another 39 Palestinian women and children jailed in Israel were also freed. Among those released were 13 Israelis and four Thai nationals. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced that among the Israelis released were seven children and six women, including 9-year-old Emily Hand, who was initially believed to have been killed by Hamas.

The hostages were initially transported by the Red Cross across southern Gaza’s Rafah crossing into Egypt. The 13 Israeli hostages were then flown to Israel on Sunday morning for medical evaluations before being reunited with their families.

The release of the hostages was initially delayed when Hamas accused Israel of not complying with the cease-fire’s terms. However, with the assistance of Qatari and Egyptian mediators, Hamas finally agreed to release the hostages.

Credits: DepositPhotos

In addition to the hostages, 39 Palestinians, including 33 children and six women, who were jailed in Israel were also released. They were transferred to the occupied West Bank by the Red Cross.

These releases follow the release of the first group of 24 Hamas-held hostages on Friday, which included 13 Israelis, 10 Thai nationals, and a Filipino citizen.

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The four-day cease-fire agreement allows for the entry of hundreds of aid trucks into Gaza, which has been devastated by the conflict. While 200 trucks carrying humanitarian aid, food, water, and medical supplies crossed into southern Gaza from Egypt via the Rafah crossing on Friday, Hamas believed that the number of aid trucks that entered on Friday and Saturday were lower than the agreed-upon amount.

The aid deliveries have been slow, and Gazans have had to wait in long lines for much-needed supplies.

Credits: DepositPhotos

The release of the remaining hostages will continue to unfold over the coming days. Israel estimates that there are about 240 hostages still being held by Hamas, though an exact number was not provided.

Among the hostages still being held are up to 10 Americans, including 4-year-old Abigail Mor Edan, whose parents were killed in the attack.

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The temporary cease-fire, which went into effect on Friday, calls for a pause in the fighting and the release of Hamas-held hostages. Israel released a first group of 39 Palestinian prisoners on Friday, and thousands of people gathered in the West Bank to greet them. While tensions remained high during the early hours of the cease-fire, there are hopes that the pause in fighting can be extended.

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