Israeli military says 13 Israelis and four Thai nationals released in Gaza

26 November 2023, 00:34

Israel Palestinians
Israel Palestinians. Picture: PA

The Israeli army said the freed hostages, including Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand, are now in Israel.

The Israeli military says Hamas has released 13 Israelis and four Thais, in the second round of swaps under a ceasefire deal.

The army said Red Cross representatives transferred the freed hostages to Egypt late on Saturday. They later said they have been transferred to Israel where they were being taken to hospitals for observation and to be reunited with families.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said nine-year-old Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand was one of those released after being held captive by Hamas in Gaza.

Hamas delayed the release by several hours, accusing Israel of violating the terms of a truce deal. The last-minute delay created a tense stand-off but ultimately went through after international mediation efforts.

A bus carrying nearly three dozen Palestinian prisoners released by Israel arrived in the West Bank.

Hundreds of people greeted the International Committee of the Red Cross bus as it arrived in Al Bireh. Crowds chanted “God is Great” as the bus arrived, and several young men stood on the roof of the vehicle. Many in the crowd held Hamas flags and chanted pro-Hamas slogans.

The release was the second batch of prisoners to be freed as part of a four-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Israel was to free 39 Palestinians on Saturday as part of the deal.

Hamas captured some 240 hostages in an October 7 attack that triggered the current war with Israel.

A total of 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners are to be freed during the four-day truce.

The Israeli hostages released on Saturday by Hamas included seven children and six women, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced.

Most of the released hostages were from Kibbutz Be’eri, a community Hamas militants ravaged during their October 7 cross-border attack, a spokesperson for the kibbutz said.

The children ranged in age from three to 16, and the women ranged from 18 to 67.

It was a bittersweet moment for the residents of Be’eri. A kibbutz spokesperson said all the released hostages either had a family member killed in the October 7 rampage or had left a loved one in captivity in Gaza.

The mother of one of the released hostages, 12-year-old Hila Rotem, remained in captivity, the spokesperson said.

By Press Association

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