Second Group of Hostages Released by Hamas as Part of Four-Day Truce

Palestinian militant group Hamas has released the second group of Israeli and foreign hostages in Gaza, marking a pivotal step towards de-escalation in the ongoing conflict.

MSNBC reported on Saturday that the terror group confirmed the release, stating that the hostages have been handed over to the Red Cross and are en route to the Rafah crossing in the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson’s office verified that over 20 hostages, comprising 13 Israelis and 7 foreigners, are now in the custody of the Red Cross and are on their way to the Rafah crossing leading into Egypt. Once there, they will be met by Israeli officials and brought into Israeli territory.

This release is part of a four-day truce agreed upon between Israel and Hamas earlier this week, with the goal of facilitating the release of approximately 50 hostages held in Gaza since Hamas’s raid on Israel on October 7th.

Israelis demonstrate in Tel Aviv for the release of 199 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Credit:
Israelis demonstrate in Tel Aviv for the release of 199 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Credit:

The truce’s terms, mediated by the United States, Qatar, and Egypt, include a unique mechanism allowing for an extension of one day for every additional 10 hostages released during the specified period. In response, Israel has committed to a suspension of all military actions in Gaza for the truce’s duration, with provisions for the entry of humanitarian, medical, and fuel aid through the territory.

Gaza has been grappling with shortages, and the aid delivery is anticipated to address pressing concerns. In a conciliatory move, Israel has further agreed to release 150 Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails, aiming to address a longstanding humanitarian issue and foster trust between conflicting parties.

The temporary truce and associated agreements underscore a commitment from both sides to seek a peaceful resolution and address immediate humanitarian needs. International mediators’ involvement signals a broader effort to achieve stability and pave the way for more comprehensive negotiations in the future.

The agreement follows weeks of negotiations, with the US, Egypt, and Qatar acting as mediators. US President Joe Biden welcomed the deal, pledging to coordinate efforts for its full implementation. While the Israeli cabinet approved the deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that Israel would continue its military campaign against Hamas after the truce, emphasizing the pursuit of broader goals, including destroying Hamas’ capabilities and securing the release of all hostages captured in the October 7th raid.

The temporary reprieve not only allows for captive releases but also permits the entry of much-needed fuel, food, medicine, and humanitarian supplies into Gaza, where 1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced by bombings and shelling. The region’s infrastructure and essential services have suffered extensive damage over six weeks of escalated Israeli airstrikes.

Mibenge Nsenduluka

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