Hamas Released 24 Hostages From Gaza on First Day of Truce

On Friday, Hamas released 24 hostages that they had been holding in Gaza for several weeks, while Israel, in the first phase of a prisoner exchange linked to a four-day cease-fire, released 39 Palestinians from jail. This swap briefly eased tensions for both sides.

Israel celebrated the release of 13 Israeli women and children from Gaza. The group included people mostly in their 70s and 80s, with the youngest being a 2-year-old. Additionally, 10 Thai and one Filipino national were also released.

The truce in Gaza brought the first period of calm for its 2.3 million residents, who had suffered under intense Israeli bombardment. The bombardment caused widespread destruction and displacement, and rocket fire into Israel from Gaza also ceased.

As part of the truce, increased supplies of food, water, medicine, and fuel began entering Gaza, alleviating some of the dire humanitarian conditions there.

However, the relief is mixed, as not all hostages will be released, and the truce is brief. The short duration of the cease-fire leaves Gaza in a humanitarian crisis and the possibility of renewed fighting.

Israel has stated that the cease-fire could be extended if more hostages are released. A new list of hostages to be released by Hamas has been received by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Despite the cease-fire, Israel has prepared to resume its offensive once the truce ends, casting doubt on whether the deal will lead to a longer-term de-escalation of the conflict.

Under the agreement, Hamas is to release at least 50 hostages, and Israel is to free 150 Palestinian prisoners over the four days, starting with women and children. The truce could be extended by a day for every additional 10 hostages released.

Ambulances carried freed hostages from Gaza into Egypt, including nine women and four children, as broadcast live on Egypt’s Al-Qahera TV.

The released hostages received medical and psychological treatment at Israeli hospitals. Schneider Children’s Medical Center reported treating eight Israelis in good physical condition.

In Tel Aviv, Israelis celebrated the release of hostages at “Hostages Square.” Yael Adar saw her 85-year-old mother, Yaffa Adar, released but remained concerned about her 38-year-old son, Tamir Adar, still in captivity.

The released hostages spanned multiple generations, including a nine-year-old boy, his mother, and grandmother, all abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7.

Some families expressed frustration, feeling that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was not sufficiently proactive in securing the return of the hostages.

Several hours following the initial release, Israel freed 24 Palestinian women and 15 teenagers from prisons located in the occupied territories of the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Celebrations erupted in the West Bank town of Beituna, where numerous Palestinians took to the streets, honking car horns and setting off fireworks that illuminated the night sky.

The teenagers were incarcerated for minor infractions such as stone-throwing. Among the women, some were convicted for attempting to attack Israeli soldiers, while others were detained at various checkpoints in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, a rights organization, reports that Israel currently detains approximately 7,200 Palestinians. This number includes around 2,000 individuals arrested since the onset of the recent conflict.