GAZA: Hamas on Monday released a fourth batch of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, and more are expected to be freed in the coming days as Israel and Hamas agreed to extend the current truce for another two days.
A Palestinian source, who required anonymity, told Xinhua that a total of 11 hostages were delivered to Red Cross officials in the fourth phase of the ceasefire swap with Israel.
On Monday night, updating its statements on the social media platform X, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said the 11 released hostages were all dual nationals, comprising three Israeli-French citizens, two Israeli-German citizens and six Israeli-Argentinian citizens.
The Israeli military confirmed in a statement that the newly released hostages had arrived in Israel after being transferred by Hamas to the Red Cross.
“IDF (Israel Defense Forces) special forces and ISA (Israel Security Agency) forces are currently accompanying 11 released hostages in Israeli territory,” the statement read, adding that “after they undergo an initial medical assessment, our forces will escort them until they are reunited with their families.”
They were released 52 days after being taken hostage by Hamas militants in a deadly attack on southern Israel on October 7.
Egypt’s Al-Qahera TV news reported that six Thai nationals would also be released on Monday night.
Of the about 240 hostages captured by Hamas, less than one-third have been released so far, according to IDF figures.
Hours after the release of Israeli hostages, Israel’s prison authority said that 33 Palestinian prisoners had been released “during the night” under the terms of the truce deal, bringing the total number of detainees freed by Israel during the initial, four-day pause in the fighting to 150.
The latest swap came amid news that the ceasefire, originally set to expire on Tuesday, will be extended for an additional two days. The extension was confirmed by Hamas and Qatar, a key mediator of the truce.
Under the initial four-day deal, Hamas will release 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for some 150 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
Israel did not immediately comment on the ceasefire extension but had said previously that the release of every additional 10 hostages would result in one additional day in the pause.
Hamas said in a statement to Xinhua that the extension of the truce will be carried out “under the same conditions as listed in the previous ceasefire deal.”