Hamas releases 17 hostages on Day 2 of Gaza truce, Irish-Israeli girl, 9, among them: Latest updates
Israel said a second batch of 39 Palestinians have been released after the 13 Israeli hostages and four foreigners were released by Hamas from Gaza.
Hamas released a second batch of 13 Israelis and four Thai nationals late on Saturday under a ceasefire deal, the Israeli military said, after the Palestine-based militant group initially delayed the exchange for several hours and claimed that Israel had violated the terms of a truce agreement.
The Israeli military said the released hostages, including four Thais, had been transferred to Israel. They were being taken to hospitals for observation and to be reunited with their families.
Al Jazeera, citing Israeli prison authorities, reported a second batch of 39 Palestinians have been released after the 13 Israeli hostages and four foreigners were released by Hamas from the Gaza Strip.
Top updates on Israel-Hamas war and truce deal:
- After the delay in the exchange, Qatar, which helped broker the deal alongside Egypt, said two mediators had managed to overcome an impasse between Israel and Hamas, The New York Times reported.
- Later, Israel confirmed that Hamas had handed 13 Israelis — eight children and five women — to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza. From there, they were taken in a convoy across the Rafah crossing to Egypt and then transported to Israel, where they were delivered to hospitals, the Israeli authorities said. Four Thai nationals were also released.
- Meanwhile, television images showed Palestinian detainees being welcomed home in annexed east Jerusalem. The most prominent individual listed as being released was Israa Jaabis, 38, who was convicted of detonating a gas cylinder in her car at a checkpoint in 2015, wounding a police officer, and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
- The deal ran the risk of derailment earlier after Hamas said it was delaying Saturday's scheduled second round of hostage releases until Israel met all truce conditions, including committing to let aid trucks into northern Gaza.
- Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan said only 65 of 340 aid trucks that had entered Gaza since Friday had reached northern Gaza, which was “less than half of what Israel agreed on.”
- The Israel Defence Forces or IDF said inside the Gaza Strip, distribution of the aid was implemented by the United Nations and international organisations. The UN confirmed said 61 trucks of aid were delivered to northern Gaza on Saturday, the largest number since October 7. They included food, water and emergency medical supplies.
- Saturday's swap comes after another 13 Israeli hostages, including children and the elderly, were freed by Hamas on Friday in return for 39 Palestinian women and youth released from Israeli prisons.
- A Palestinian official familiar with the diplomacy told news agency AP that Hamas would continue with the four-day truce agreed with Israel, the first halt in fighting since Hamas fighters rampaged through southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages.
- In response to that attack, Israel has vowed to destroy the Hamas militants who run Gaza, launching bombs and shells on the enclave and a ground offensive in the north. At least 14,800 people, roughly 40% of them children, have been killed so far in the counteroffensive, Palestinian health authorities claimed on Saturday.
- A nine-year-old Irish-Israeli girl was among the latest group of hostages released by Hamas fighters on Saturday, Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a statement. "This is a day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family," Varadkar said. Emily Hand turned nine earlier this month while being held captive. Her father Thomas Hand, who was born in Ireland and later moved to Israel, told news agency AFP earlier this month that initially he thought his daughter had been killed in the attack.
- Meanwhile, the Israeli foreign minister said an elite unit of the IDF and forces of the Shin Bet are now accompanying the hostages in Israeli territory who have returned home. “After undergoing an initial assessment of their medical condition, our forces will accompany the returnees until they reach their families in the hospitals,” it said.
(With inputs from agencies)