GAZA – Hamas on Friday released 24 hostages it held captive in Gaza for weeks, while Israel freed 39 Palestinians from prison in the first stage of a swap under a four-day cease-fire that offered a small glimmer of relief to both sides.
According to the Minichi News, Israel, wrenched by the abduction of nearly 240 people in Hamas’ October 7, 2023 attack that triggered the war, cheered as 13 Israeli women and children emerged free from Gaza.
Most were in their 70s or 80s, and the youngest was a two-year-old.
Also released were 10 people from Thailand and one from the Philippines.
In Gaza, the truce’s start Friday morning brought the first quiet for 2.3 million Palestinians reeling and desperate from relentless Israeli bombardment that had killed thousands, driven three-quarters of the population from their homes and leveled residential areas.
Under the deal, Hamas was to release at least 50 hostages, and Israel 150 Palestinian prisoners over the four days.
Both sides were starting with women and children.
Israel said the four-day truce could be extended an extra day for every additional 10 hostages freed.
The released hostages were taken to three Israeli hospitals for observation.
The Schneider Children’s Medical Center said it was treating eight Israelis, four children and four women and that all appeared to be in good physical condition.
The center said they were also receiving psychological treatment, adding that “these are sensitive moments” for the families.
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