Hamas Releases 17 More Hostages, Israel Releases 39 More Palestinian Prisoners as Gaza Truce Holds

Sun Nov 26 2023
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GAZA CITY: In a significant development on Sunday, the Palestinian resistance group Hamas released a third group of 17 hostages, including a four-year-old American girl, marking a total of 58 hostages released since the initiation of the four-day ceasefire on Friday. This exchange was accompanied by the release of 39 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

The Israeli army reported that 13 of the released hostages had returned to Israeli territory, with four others en route to Egypt. United States President Joe Biden confirmed the release of the four-year-old American girl and expressed relief, emphasizing the ongoing efforts to secure the release of other Americans held by Hamas.

The releases, part of the Gaza ceasefire agreement, have brought the total number of Israelis freed to 39 since the ceasefire began, with a corresponding release of 117 Palestinian prisoners over the past three days.

Hamas Indicates Willingness to Extent Gaza Truce

Hamas has indicated a willingness to extend the current truce, with a source close to the group mentioning the possibility of a four-day extension beyond the initial expiry date. The truce stipulates the release of 50 hostages by Hamas over four days, exchanged for 150 Palestinian prisoners, and includes a built-in extension mechanism.

Despite a last-minute delay on Saturday, the releases proceeded, underscoring the complex nature of the agreement. Hamas had accused Israel of breaking the terms of agreement, emphasizing the need for strict adherence.

The temporary pause in hostilities has allowed more aid to reach Gaza, addressing critical shortages of water and essentials. Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), highlighted the “unprecedented” humanitarian needs, calling for sustained aid efforts.

As Gaza continues to grapple with the aftermath of the conflict, civil defense spokesman Mahmoud Bassel stressed the urgency of heavy machinery for search and rescue operations amidst the rubble. The UN estimates that 1.7 million out of Gaza’s 2.4 million population have been displaced by the recent fighting.



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