Hamas Releases 13 Israeli Hostages as Cease-Fire Holds

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Israeli security forces stand next to ambulances waiting outside the helipad of Tel Aviv’s Schneider medical center, as they prepare to receive hostages released from Gaza, Nov. 24, 2023. (Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images via JTA.org)

This is a developing story.

Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages into Egypt on Friday, a sign that the four-day cease-fire brokered between Israel and the terror group that runs Gaza was holding.

Twelve Thai nationals were also released in a surprise additional deal that Egyptian officials said they had brokered. Thirty-nine Palestinian prisoners will be released from Israel as part of the agreement, and multiple tankers of humanitarian aid will enter the Gaza Strip.

The identities of the hostages were not yet known Friday morning Eastern time. They will head to Israel after being driven into Egypt by the International Committee of the Red Cross via the Rafah border crossing. They will immediately undergo medical and psychological evaluations, Israel’s health ministry has said.

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The temporary truce agreed upon earlier this week looked like it could have hit a snag, as the Israeli Defense Forces shelled parts of Gaza into the early hours of Friday morning and shot at Gazans attempting to return to the northern part of the coastal enclave. But Israeli military and Hamas forces held off from fighting at the agreed upon time on Friday morning, as did the Hezbollah terror group on Israel’s border with Lebanon.

On Tuesday, Israel and Hamas agreed to a temporary cease-fire that involves, over the course of four days, the release of around 50 of the over 200 Israelis who have been captured in Gaza since Oct. 7. Afterward, Hamas can extend the truce by releasing an additional 10 hostages a day. Along the way, Israel will release three Palestinian prisoners for every released hostage.

It is as of now unclear what happens after the first four days of the truce. As the hostages were en route to Israel, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said “Hamas will pursue its effort to halt the Israeli assault on Gaza” and “complete the prisoner exchange.”

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