- Adds a WHO statement in paragraphs 13 and 14, details about the Thai hostages in paragraphs 16 to 19, details about the murdered journalists in paragraph 25.
- LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:
- WHO says more support and sustained ceasefire needed
- ‘I’m not dead,’ freed Thai hostage tells family
- Israeli security officials review the list, which is not yet public
GAZA/JERUSALEM, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Israel received a list of hostages to be freed from Gaza on Saturday by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, officials said, following the release of 24 hostages the previous day, the first of a planned four hostages. truce of the day.
Israeli security officials were reviewing the list, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement, after his government pledged to work toward the release of all hostages taken by Hamas in an Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
The pause in fighting was the first of its kind, and both sides said hostilities would resume as soon as the truce ends. However, US President Joe Biden expressed hope that it could be expanded.
The freed hostages, including Israeli women and children and Thai farm workers, were flown from Gaza and handed over to Egyptian authorities at the Rafah border crossing, along with eight International Committee of the Red Cross staff in a convoy of four. cars, the organization reported. saying.
They were then taken to Israel for medical checks and to reunite with relatives.
Qatar, which acted as mediator for the truce deal, said 13 Israelis had been freed, some with dual nationality, as well as 10 Thais and one Filipino, agricultural workers employed in southern Israel when they were captured.
Thirty-nine Palestinian women and children, some convicted or detained on suspicion of weapons charges and violent crimes, were released from Israeli prisons. Among the freed Israeli hostages were four children accompanied by four relatives and five elderly women.
Biden said there was a real possibility of extending the truce, adding that the pause was a critical opportunity to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.
He declined to speculate on how long the war between Israel and Hamas would last. When asked at a press conference what his expectations were, he said that Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas was legitimate but difficult.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said 196 humanitarian aid trucks transported food, water and medical supplies through the Rafah crossing on Friday, the largest convoy of its kind into Gaza since the Hamas attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli bombing of the territory.
Around 1,759 trucks have entered the narrow enclave since October 21, he added.
Aid groups have used the truce to evacuate patients and health workers from some northern hospitals that have virtually collapsed due to attacks and lack of fuel.
The World Health Organization helped transfer 22 patients from Al Ahli hospital to the south on Friday, its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on the X social media platform.
“To meet all the health needs in Gaza, much more support is needed and, above all, a sustained ceasefire,” he said.
EMOTIONS FOUND IN ISRAEL
The families of the hostages expressed mixed emotions and feared for those left behind.
“I’m not dead, I’m not dead,” Thai farm worker Vetoon Phoome told his family, who thought he had died in the Hamas attack seven weeks ago, according to his sister, Roongarun Wichagern.
From his home in northeastern Thailand, he told Reuters his 33-year-old brother’s survival was a “miracle.”
Ten Thai workers were among the freed hostages. Thailand said 20 of its citizens remain captive, with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin urging their release “as soon as possible” in a social media post.
A source briefed on the negotiations said the Thai release was unrelated to the truce deal with Israel and followed a separate track of talks with Hamas brokered by Egypt and Qatar.
“I’m excited for the families who are going to hug their loved ones today,” Shelly Shem Tov, the mother of 21-year-old Omer Shem Tov, said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, although she was not among those released on Friday. .
“I’m jealous. And I’m sad. Mostly sad because Omer still hasn’t come home.”
Israeli counts show Hamas fighters killed 1,200 people in the October attack and took around 240 hostages.
Israel has since dropped bombs on the Hamas-ruled enclave, killing about 14,000 Gazans, about 40% of them children, Palestinian health authorities say.
Hundreds of thousands of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, including most of those in the northern half.
The Palestinian Journalists’ Union estimates that up to 66 media representatives were killed, including six female journalists, and two are missing in Gaza since October 7.
After the first medical checks, the freed hostages were taken to reunite with their families. Medical authorities said they appeared to be in good physical condition.
Roni Haviv, a relative of Ohad Munder, said she hoped to give the nine-year-old his favorite toy.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Ohad and I can’t wait to give him his Rubik’s cube, which I know he really loved and probably missed a lot,” she added.
Those freed on Friday were exchanged for 24 imprisoned Palestinian women and 15 teenagers, some of them convicted on weapons and violent crime charges.
In at least three cases, before the prisoners were released, Israeli police raided their families’ homes in Jerusalem, witnesses said.
Police declined to comment.
“There is no real joy, not even this little joy that we feel while we wait,” said Sawsan Bkeer, mother of Palestinian Marah Bkeer, 24, jailed for eight years on assault and knife charges in 2015.
Israeli police were seen raiding his home in Jerusalem ahead of his daughter’s release.
“We are still afraid to feel happy,” he added.
Reporting by Bassam Masoud, James Mackenzie and Henriette Chacar; additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Written by Idrees Ali and Grant McCool; Editing by Deepa Babington, Clarence Fernández and William Mallard
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