Ceasefire Takes Hold As 13 Israeli Hostages Released
Friday saw the first batch of Israeli hostages released by Hamas terrorists as the temporary truce took effect. Thirteen women and children who were held in captivity for nearly seven weeks were transferred to the Red Cross in Gaza.
Israel reported the contingent was en route to the Egyptian border to be reunited with their families. They are part of the nearly 240 hostages seized by Palestinian militants in the Oct. 7 raid on southern Israel.
Israel residents waiting for the hostages to be released.
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Video footage from Friday showed hostages and aid workers in Red Cross ambulances being transported through the Rafah Crossing in Egypt. One freed woman could be seen waving at spectators.
The Red Cross is handling the operation that is hoped to extend for several days as more hostages are released. The women and children are undergoing medical tests and will be reunited with their families at hospitals.
Regional Director Fabrizio Carboni observed, “The deep pain that family members separated from their loved ones feel is indescribable. We are relieved that some will be reunited after long agony.”
The initial plan is for 50 Israeli hostages to be freed in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Unlike the innocents kidnapped by Hamas terrorists, the Palestinians are accused of crimes ranging from rock throwing to stabbings.
The release of the first group of Israelis is to be followed by the freeing of 39 Palestinians, consisting of 24 women and 15 teenagers.
Guns fell silent across the region as the four-day ceasefire took hold. International journalists reported there were no signs of fighting in the hours after the ceasefire began.
Israel responded to the barbaric invasion carried out by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 with a massive ground invasion and bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Its attackers embed in civilian neighborhoods and even hospitals, leaving Tel Aviv with no choice but to go after them there.
Both sides confirmed that they will resume fighting when the truce expires, though there are provisions for possibly extending the ceasefire if more Israeli hostages are freed.
Twelve Thai nationals were released by Hamas. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin confirmed that his countrymen were also freed, and they are being escorted to a hospital for checkups.