Progress in Israel-Hamas Truce: Hostages and Detainees Exchanged Amid Extended Ceasefire

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Lamees Abu Arkoob, a Palestinian who was released from an Israeli prison, is embraced by her father, right, outside her house near Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank early Wednesday. (Mussa Qawasma/Reuters)

In a significant development amid the ongoing Gaza war, Israel and Hamas have made considerable strides in a prisoner swap deal under an extended truce. According to multiple sources, 12 more hostages were released by Hamas, and Israel, in turn, freed 30 Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters accompany a newly released Israeli hostage. Photo: AFP

Details of the Hostage Release

Hamas released 12 hostages, including 10 Israeli citizens and two foreign nationals, who were among the 240 people seized during an incursion into southern Israel on October 7. The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed the transfer of the hostages from Gaza, and the Israeli military verified their safe arrival on Israeli territory. Among those released were a German national, a Filipina dual national, and two Argentinean dual nationals, as confirmed by Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari.

Thirty Palestinians aboard an International Red Cross bus were visibly overjoyed after their release from Ofer prison as part of the truce between Israel’s military and Hamas.

Palestinian Prisoners Freed

In reciprocation, Israel released 30 Palestinian detainees from Ofer Prison and a detention center in Jerusalem. This move aligns with the terms of the truce, which Qatar stated would involve the release of 15 women and 15 children.

Newly released Palestinian prisoner Manal Dudeen hugs her daughter after disembarking a Red Cross bus. Photo: AFP

Continued Efforts in Mediation

Mediators in Qatar are working to extend the current five-day truce, set to expire on Wednesday, as part of ongoing efforts to ease tensions and facilitate further exchanges. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed the extension as a “glimpse of hope and humanity in the middle of the darkness of war,” while the White House expressed optimism for a prolonged humanitarian pause.

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid wait along a road in Egypt near the country’s border with Gaza on Saturday. (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies)

The Humanitarian Impact

The extended truce has brought a much-needed respite to Gaza following weeks of intensive Israeli bombardment. As reported, more than 15,000 people have been confirmed killed in Israel’s bombardment, with about 40 percent being children. In contrast, Israel has suffered at least 77 military casualties and contends to have eliminated thousands of militants.

International Response

The global community, including G7 foreign ministers, has shown support for a further extension of the ceasefire to facilitate aid shipments and the release of more hostages. The statement from the G7 emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself but also underscored the importance of protecting civilians and complying with international law.