1st group of hostages released in Israel-Hamas truce, Thai & Filipino nationals also released

24 hostages taken by Hamas and 39 Palestinians from Israeli prisons were released.

Khine Zin Htet | November 25, 2023, 03:59 PM



A four-day truce in the Israel-Hamas war started on Friday (Nov. 24).

Under the truce, 50 hostages taken by Hamas are expected to be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons.

Friday night saw the first stage of the prisoner exchange, with the release of 24 hostages who have been held captive since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, and 39 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, reported the Associated Press (AP).

Israel has said that the duration of the four-day truce can be extended by an additional day for every additional 10 hostages released.

Hamas hostages released in Egypt

Ambulances carrying freed hostages from Hamas entered Egypt through the Rafah crossing from Gaza.

The freed Israelis included nine women and four children under the age of nine.

They have been taken to Israeli hospitals for observation, with one hospital, the Schneider Children’s Medical Center, saying that the eight Israelis they were treating appeared to be in good physical condition.

The center also said that they were receiving psychological treatment, adding that “these are sensitive moments” for the families.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a post on X, formerly Twitter:

"We have just completed the return of the first batch of our hostages. Children, their mothers and other women. Each and every one of them is a world in itself.

But I stress to you, the families, and to you, citizens of Israel: We are committed to returning all our hostages."

Thai prisoners freed in separate agreement

Amongst the hostages released were 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino.

Thai and Filipino farm workers employed in southern Israel were among around 240 hostages taken by Hamas fighters following their Oct. 7 attack.

The release of the Thai nationals was not part of the ceasefire negotiations and was a result of a separate deal mediated by Egypt and Qatar, reported Reuters.

Palestinian prisoners freed

Hours after Hamas's release of hostages, 24 Palestinian women and 15 teenagers held in Israeli prisons in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem were also freed.

The teenagers had been jailed for minor offences like stone-throwing while some of the women have been accused of trying to stab Israeli soldiers and security forces at checkpoints, AP said.

According to an advocacy group called the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, Israel is currently holding 7,200 Palestinians, including about 2,000 arrested since the start of the war.

Humanitarian aid increases

The ceasefire also saw an increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Israel had previously stopped all imports of essential items into Gaza throughout the hostilities, save for some aid through Egypt.

During the truce, Israel agreed to allow the delivery of 130,000 litres (34,340 gallons) of fuel per day into besieged Gaza, reported AP.

However, this only meets a small percentage of Gaza’s estimated daily needs of more than 1 million litres.

On Friday, four trucks of fuel and four trucks of cooking gas entered from Egypt, as well as 200 trucks of relief supplies.

Truce may just be temporary

Since the attack on Oct. 7, Hamas fighters have killed 1,200 people and seized about 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive saw some 14,000 Gazans killed, with around 40 per cent of them children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza authority.

While the ceasefire has stopped hostilities from both Hamas and Israel, both parties have indicated that the truce is only temporary.

Abu Ubaida, spokesperson for Hamas' armed wing, called it a "temporary truce" and called for an "escalation of the confrontation ... on all resistance fronts", including the IWest Bank, reported Reuters.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant also spoke similarly:

"This will be a short pause, at the conclusion of which the war (and) fighting will continue with great might and will generate pressure for the return of more hostages."

Top photo from AP