Israel has received the list of hostages expected to be released today, the third group since the truce came into force on Friday with the terms of the agreement which provides for the release of one kidnapped person for every 3 Palestinian prisoners released. The Israeli prime minister’s office said it had notified the families of the hostages concerned.
Yesterday the expected release of the hostages was postponed for several hours by Hamas, which complained about the violation of part of the agreements by the Jewish State. Late in the evening the situation was resolved with the mediation of Egypt and Qatar and the group of 13 Israeli hostages (plus 4 Thais and 4 citizens with dual passports, Israeli and German) were freed. The Ezzedine al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Islamist movement, released a video showing the 17 getting into ICRC off-road vehicles just before midnight. A young woman, her ankle bandaged and walking on crutches, was lying on a stretcher in one of the vehicles. They all arrived in Israel shortly thereafter, via Egypt.
Among the hostages released Saturday was Maya Regev, 21, kidnapped with her 18-year-old brother as they tried to escape the Tribe of Nova music festival, which was attacked by Hamas fighters in the early hours of October 7. A video published on social networks shows the young woman and her brother tied up in the back of a pick-up truck. «I am very happy that Maya is about to join us. However, my heart is broken because my son Itay is still a prisoner of Hamas in Gaza,” her mother Mirit said in a statement published by the Hostages’ Families Forum.
Between Friday and Saturday, Hamas handed over a total of 41 Israeli and foreign hostages held in Gaza to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), while Israel released 78 Palestinian prisoners. The agreement, reached on Wednesday under the aegis of Qatar with the support of the United States and Egypt, includes the exchange of 50 Hamas hostages for 150 Palestinian prisoners during the four-day truce, which can be extended.
At the same time, Hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian aid continue to enter the Gaza Strip, besieged and devastated by seven weeks of intense Israeli bombing in retaliation for the bloody Hamas attack on Israeli soil on October 7. At least 200 will enter Egypt today through the Rafah crossing, which is open in both directions also to accommodate the wounded and allows people stranded on both sides to pass, according to the agreed mechanism. Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent in North Sinai, told ANSA, adding that 200 trucks also entered yesterday and 215 the day before yesterday, which means that the number has almost doubled. Furthermore, seven tankers of fuel and domestic gas (3 fuel, 4 domestic gas) entered the Rafah terminal, approximately 130,000 liters of fuel: domestic gas reached 75 tons, which is processed and discharged on the Palestinian side.
No urgent care for 12 of the 13 hostages freed
The Sheba hospital in Ramat Gan said that 12 of the 13 hostages released yesterday by Hamas spent the night at the medical center and that none of them required urgent medical treatment. “Although the days of imprisonment are evident, none of them require urgent and immediate intervention”, said the head doctor of the pediatric hospital, Itai Pessach, assuring that the staff will continue to “support them physically and mentally”.
The thirteenth hostage released on Saturday evening, Maya Regev, is hospitalized at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. The hospital described her condition as moderate and her life is not in danger.
“Daughter freed without mother”, Kibbutz Be’eri against Hamas
The release of 13-year-old Hila Rotem without her mother Raya, who remained prisoner in Gaza, is a “violation of the agreement” reached by Hamas and Israel which provides that no child is separated from the mother upon liberation. This is what was reported by Kibbutz Bèeri, from which 12 of the thirteen hostages freed yesterday late in the evening came.
While saying they were “happy” for the return of the kidnapped ones, the community underlined that “three children from two families on the kibbutz were separated from their only remaining parent.” The other case is that of 17-year-old Noam Or and her 13-year-old sister Alma, whose mother was killed by Hamas terrorists on 7 October and whose father is still a prisoner in the Strip together with his 18-year-old nephew Liam.