Two more hostages released by Hamas, Red Cross confirms, bringing total number freed to four

23 October 2023, 22:12 | Updated: 23 October 2023, 22:39

Yocheved Lifshitz, 85 (left) and Nurit Yitzhak, 79, (right).
Yocheved Lifshitz, 85 (left) and Nurit Cooper, 79, (right). Picture: Twitter

By Jenny Medlicott

Two more hostages have been released by Hamas bringing the total number freed to four, the Red Cross has confirmed.

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Two more hostages were released by Hamas on Monday evening and have been transferred to ambulances, according to reports.

Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, two Israeli women, were named as the two hostages freed by an Israeli government official.

A spokesperson from Israel's Prime Minister's Office issued a statement following the women's release.

"The Special Envoy for Abducted and Missing Persons updated that today (Monday) Nurit Cooper (79) and Yocheved Lifshitz (85) were released from the hands of the terrorist organisation Hamas.

"The two were kidnapped during the murderous attack on Saturday (07.10.23) from their homes in Kibbutz Nir Oz. Amiram, the 85-year-old husband of Cooper, and Oded, the 83-year-old husband of Lifshitz, who were kidnapped along with them, are still being held by the cruel terrorist organization along with the other abductees, and we will continue to work in every way for their return.

"The IDF and the security forces have worked hard in the last few days in all channels to bring about their release and to overcome the many difficulties set by Hamas.

The pair were released and sent to a medical centre.
The pair were released and sent to a medical centre. Picture: Getty

"After being handed over to the IDF forces, they are making their way at this time to a medical center in Israel that was specially organized and prepared to receive them.

"Their family members will be waiting for them there. We thank Egypt for its assistance, and the Red Cross for their important role as life savers. The Government of Israel, the IDF and the entire security establishment will continue to operate with the best of their abilities and efforts in order to locate all of the missing and return all of the abductees home."

Confirming the news earlier on Monday evening, the Red Cross said in a statement: “We facilitated the release of 2 more hostages, transporting them out of Gaza this evening.

“Our role as a neutral intermediary makes this work possible are we are ready to facilitate any future release.

“We hope that they will soon be back with their loved ones.”

Sharone Lifschitz, the daughter of Yochved released a statement following the release of her mother.

“I can confirm that my mother Yochi Lifschitz was one of two hostages released to the Red Cross this evening," she said according to The Guardian.

“They were handed over to the Red Cross at the Rafah crossing a short time ago, from there they will be transferred shortly to Israel. The families have been informed.

“While I cannot put into words the relief that she is now safe, I will remain focused on securing the release of my father and all those – some 200 innocent people – who remain hostages in Gaza.”

Judith and Natalie Raanan were released on Friday.
Judith and Natalie Raanan were released on Friday. Picture: Alamy

Read more: Israel releases unedited bodycam footage of Hamas attacks to prove ‘magnitude of atrocities committed’

Read more: Sunak says Israel not to blame for missile that killed hundreds at a hospital - which was launched from inside Gaza

Sharone’s father, Oded Lifschitz, a veteran Israeli journalist was captured by Hamas with along with his wife Yochved.

Hamas has been keeping more than 200 people in total hostage since its most recent conflict with Israel started earlier this month.

It comes after US President Joe Biden suggested he may be willing to support a ceasefire in Gaza if all hostages are released.

Asked whether he would support calling a ceasefire in exchange for hostages, he said: “We should have those hostages released and then we can talk.”

Mike Katz, Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, told LBC: “The first line of anything in this sanction has to be: bring these hostages home."

Judith and Natalie Raanan were also released by Hamas on Friday.
Judith and Natalie Raanan were also released by Hamas on Friday. Picture: Handout

“We are still talking about some British citizens, as well as Israeli citizens, who are somewhere in Gaza experiencing God knows what.

“I shudder to think if they are still alive. That has to be the first line before we actually talk about the long-term resolution which we obviously have to consider.”

It comes after American mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Raanan were freed by Hamas on Friday after the group said it was letting them go for humanitarian reasons, as part of an agreement with the Qatari government, which has significant influence with the Palestinian group.

The Israeli armed forces said that they received the Raanans "at the border of the Gaza Strip" before taking them to a military base in central Israel, where they were set to be reunited with their family members.

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