Al-Qassam Brigades’ Statement
In a significant development under the temporary ceasefire agreement with Israel, the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, announced the release of the third batch of hostages from the Gaza Strip. The release, orchestrated in collaboration with the Red Cross, included Israeli, Thai, Russian, and Palestinian detainees.
The Al-Qassam Brigades, in a press statement, confirmed the handover of 13 Israeli detainees, three Thais, and one Russian to the Red Cross within the framework of the humanitarian truce. The handover process took place, in part, in the northern Gaza Strip, with detainees crossing the border between Gaza and Israel.
Israeli Confirmation and Process
The Israeli army corroborated the reception of the 13 Israeli hostages, consisting of four women and nine children, the youngest being four years old. The handover involved the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Israeli Army Special Forces, and the Shin Bet internal security agency. The hostages were transported to the Hatzerim Airbase, except for an 84-year-old woman airlifted to Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva due to a medical condition.
Palestinian Prisoner Release
Simultaneously, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s prisoners department published a list of 39 released Palestinian prisoners, predominantly children. Buses transported these individuals, with 21 from Jerusalem, one from Gaza, and the remainder from the West Bank.
Ceasefire Extension Efforts
Amid the ongoing ceasefire, efforts to extend the truce intensified, with Qatar and Egypt proposing an extension draft to Israel and Hamas. The discussions revolved around not only prolonging the ceasefire but also facilitating a larger prisoner swap, aiming to release 40 to 50 captives from Gaza. This proposal also involved increased humanitarian aid to address the crisis in the strip.
Netanyahu’s Statement and Hamas’ Position
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a video statement, expressed openness to extending the truce by a few days if Hamas increased the release of hostages. Meanwhile, a representative from Hamas stated the group’s intention to extend the ceasefire beyond the initially agreed-upon four days.
Prospects for Lasting Peace
As the temporary ceasefire enters its third day, the release of hostages marks a tangible step toward de-escalation. However, the discussions for an extended ceasefire and a more comprehensive prisoner swap underscore the delicate nature of the situation. The international community watches closely, hoping for a sustained peace that addresses the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and fosters long-term stability in the region.