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Hamas and Israel Release More Hostages and Prisoners Ahead of Ending Temporary Ceasefire

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Updated: | Originally published:

After a seven-day temporary truce, Gaza is once again under bombardment from Israel just hours after eight more hostages were released from captivity on Thursday. Israel released 30 Palestinian from its prisons early Friday, before fighting resumed. 

Both sides hold each other responsible for violating the terms of the pause, and Gaza’s health ministry has since reported dozens of deaths in the Palestinian enclave. 

Under an initial deal brokered by Qatar and Egypt, Hamas and Israel agreed to exchange 50 hostages for 150 prisoners, stop fighting for four days, and allow more aid to enter Gaza starting Friday, Nov. 24. The truce was  extended twice, allowing for more exchanges and aid. 

Following Thursday’s hostage release, the total number of hostages released by Hamas since the temporary ceasefire was put in place now stands at 105 and includes 75 Israelis, 3 Israeli-Russian dual nationals, and 24 foreign nationals. Five hostages left Gaza before the ceasefire. Four were released by Hamas and one woman—an Israeli soldier—was rescued during a Gaza ground operation, Israeli authorities said. Israel has released 240 Palestinian prisoners since the temporary truce began.

The Israeli government said Hamas took an estimated 240 people hostage during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The militant group released four prior to the temporary ceasefire—an American mother and daughter on Oct. 20 and two Israeli women on Oct. 23, both for "humanitarian reasons," according to Hamas. 

Qatar’s government, which is leading current negotiations between the warring sides, told The Financial Times that there are an estimated 40 hostages in Gaza who are not being held by Hamas and are instead under the hold of other militant groups, complicating the organization of their release.

Here’s what has happened so far.

Dec. 1: The temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas comes to an end, strikes resume

In the early hours of Friday morning, local time in Israel, BBC News reported that 30 more Palestinian prisoners had been freed, following the release of Israeli hostages. The prisoners had been held across Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Jerusalem.

Hours later, the deadline to extend the ceasefire passed. The Israeli Defence Forces posted on X (formerly Twitter), claiming that Hamas had fired rockets into Israel and therefore violated the truce.

In a statement shared via social media, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office claimed Hamas "has not met its obligation to release all of the women hostages today and has launched rockets at Israeli citizens."

"Upon the resumption of fighting, we emphasize: The Government of Israel is committed to achieving the goals of the war: Releasing the hostages, eliminating Hamas and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to the residents of Israel,” the statement added.

Hamas equally claimed that Israel violated the truce, reporting gunfire and explosions in northern Gaza. Since the truce ended, Israeli warplanes have targeted several areas in Gaza. 

Nov. 30: Eight hostages released, truce extended for at least one more day

Minutes before the truce was set to expire at 7 a.m. local time, Israel’s military and Hamas announced separately on Thursday that the agreement would be extended for another day.

Hours before the extension agreement was announced, Hamas’ armed wing had told its forces to maintain combat readiness in case the truce was not renewed.

Meanwhile, the office of Israel’s prime minister said on Thursday that Netanyahu and his war cabinet had agreed for fighting to be “resumed immediately.” Israeli authorities said in a statement on Thursday morning that they had not been given a list of Israeli captives to be released and would continue with the truce. At the time, around 145 hostages were still held by Hamas, Israeli officials said.

The extension of the truce was welcomed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is currently in Israel to meet with top officials. He is also expected to visit the West Bank and have another meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“The pause in fighting has demonstrated success in securing the freedom of hostages and in delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza—we want to see it continue,” Blinken wrote in a post on X. 

Around 5 p.m., the IDF announced on Telegram that the Red Cross transferred two Israeli hostages to special forces near the security fence in Gaza. The military then took them to Hatzerim Base in Israel. In the next few hours, more Israeli hostages were expected to be transferred to the Red Cross, the IDF said.

An additional six hostages were handed over by Hamas to the Red Cross, and returned to Israel shortly before midnight.

Nov. 29: Hamas releases 16 hostages, Israel releases 30 Palestinian prisoners

Hamas released 16 hostages—10 Israelis, two Israeli-Russian dual citizens, and four Thais—on Wednesday, as Israeli authorities said that an estimated 160 hostages were still held in Gaza.

In exchange, 30 Palestinians—16 minors and 14 women—held in Israeli prisons were released, said the Israeli prison authorities. Ahed Tamimi, a prominent Palestinian activist, was among the 30 freed prisoners. She had spent nearly three weeks in jail, after the Israeli military arrested her on Nov. 6 on suspicion of inciting violence, based on an Instagram post that her family said was not written by her. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emphasized that they will continue fighting against Hamas. “After this phase of returning our abductees is exhausted, will Israel return to fighting? So my answer is an unequivocal yes,” he said on Wednesday. “There is no way we are not going back to fighting until the end.”

Nov. 29 also marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which has been commemorated since 1978. Around the world, activists and lawmakers participated in demonstrations calling for the ceasefire to become permanent. 

“This is a day for reaffirming international solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to live in peace and dignity,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement. “That must start with a long-term humanitarian ceasefire, unrestricted access for lifesaving aid, the release of all hostages, the protection of civilians and an end to violations of international humanitarian law.”

Nov. 28: Hamas releases 12 hostages, Israel releases 30 Palestinian prisoners

Twelve hostages—10 Israelis and two Thais—were released by Hamas. Meanwhile, 30 Palestinians were released from Israeli prisons. 

The exchange came despite allegations of truce violations from both sides. A Hamas official said that a “field clash” occurred after Israel troops violated the ceasefire deal. The IDF said that some of its soldiers suffered minor injuries after Hamas fighters detonated “explosive devices” near them. 

Nov. 27: 11 Hostages transferred to Red Cross, Truce extended by two days

Eleven Israeli hostages were transferred to the Red Cross, according to IDF. Thirty-three Palestinian prisoners are expected to be released in exchange.

As hostages continue to be released, more details are also emerging regarding the conditions of the hostages’ captivity. At least one hostage released on Sunday, 84-year-old Elma Avraham, is in critical condition, the director of Soroka Medical Center in Southern Israel told reporters.

Merav Raviv told the Associated Press that her aunt and cousin had each lost 15 lbs over the course of their 50 days in captivity. The Associated Press also reported that hostages were forced to sleep on chairs and sometimes had to wait hours before using the bathroom. 

Nov. 26: Hamas releases 17 hostages, Israel releases 39 Palestinian prisoners

Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages, three Thai nationals and a Russian to the Red Cross, the militant group and Israeli military reported at 6 p.m. local time. Among those released was four-year-old Abigail Edan, one of three hostages with American citizenship, U.S. President Joe Biden said. Hamas killed Edan’s parents at their home on the Kfar Aza kibbutz near Gaza, Bloomberg reported.

Israel, in turn, released 39 Palestinian prisoners, the Israel Prison service reported. 

Nov. 25: Hamas frees 17 hostages, Israel releases 39 Palestinian prisoners

On the second day of the truce, 13 Israeli citizens and four foreigners were released and 39 Palestinian prisoners freed, Dr. Majed Al Ansari, the spokesperson for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed on social media. 

Around 11:15 p.m. local time, Al Ansari said the hostages had been handed over to the Red Cross and on their way to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. 

The hostages released included men, women and children. The Palestinian prisoners were women and boys. 

The Israel Defense Forces listed some of the returned hostages as Emily Hand, Hila Rotem Shoshani, Shiri and Noga Weiss, Adi and Yahel Shoham. The Israel Prison service published a list of the 39 Palestinian prisoners released (in Hebrew). 

The exchange happened after an hours-long delay. Hamas’ military arm, the Al-Qassam Brigades, had said in a statement on Telegram just after 6 p.m. that it decided to delay the release of hostages until Israel followed the agreement related to the entry of relief trucks into north Gaza.  

In an interview with the BBC, a Hamas official also claimed Israel flew drones over Gaza, killed two Palestinians and changed the agreed list of Palestinian prisoners to be released. This was echoed by Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan during a news conference in Beirut, the BBC said. Israel denied to the BBC that it broke the truce. TIME reached out to both parties for comment.

Since Friday, more humanitarian aid has entered Gaza, where food and clean water have been running out during seven weeks of war.

The U.N. said 61 trucks of aid that included food, water and emergency medical supplies were delivered to north Gaza on Saturday with the help of the Palestinian and Egyptian Red Crescent Societies. The Palestinian branch confirmed it delivered some aid in a post on X (formerly Twitter). In its daily update on Saturday, the U.N. said Israeli authorities still had not allowed fuel to reach north Gaza. 

After a tense couple of hours, Al Ansari said just before 9 p.m. that the deal would move forward after a delay “from both sides” that was resolved by Qatari and Egyptian mediation. Al Ansari said seven foreign national hostages would also be released outside of the agreement, but later said four were freed. 

Two senior officials in President Joe Biden’s administration told NBC News the U.S. was disappointed no Americans were included in the first two hostage releases, but remained “hopeful” that at least three Americans would be freed as part of the total 50 expected.

Nov. 24: Hamas frees 24 hostages, Israel releases 39 Palestinian prisoners

On Friday, the first day of the truce, Hamas freed 24 hostages—men, women and children including 13 Israelis, 10 Thai nationals, and one Filipino citizen—as confirmed by Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Israel also released 39 Palestinian prisoners, women and children, which was “upholding the commitment of the first day of the agreement," Al Ansari said in a post on X.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office published a list of the names and ages of the released hostages, and the Israel Prison Service put out a list of the names of freed Palestinian prisoners. 

Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on X just before 4 p.m. that 12 Thai hostages had been released by Hamas, as part of a separate agreement that the Egyptian government helped negotiate. The Thai foreign ministry corrected its announcement on Saturday to say that 10, not 12, Thai hostages had been released on Friday, and that at least 20 more Thai hostages remain in Gaza.

At around 4:30 p.m., 13 Israeli hostages were transferred from Hamas to the International Committee of the Red Cross, per The Times of Israel. Just before 5 p.m., hostages were transferred to the Egyptians, Israeli TV stations, as cited by Sky News, reported. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced Friday that 24 hostages had been released. "We are relieved to confirm the safe release of 24 hostages," a social media post said. "We have facilitated this release by transporting them from Gaza to the Rafah border, marking the real-life impact of our role as a neutral intermediary between the parties." 

Israel Defense Forces brought the released hostages to a hospital where they met their families, videos and photos show. 

The IDF and Israel Foreign Ministry said earlier on Friday that they were ready to receive hostages with medical care and supplies, sharing pictures and a video on social media of toys, toiletries, blankets and clothes.

Eyal Nouri, the nephew of Adina Moshe who was released on Nov. 24, tells TIME that his aunt shared with her family that she was confined underground, unaware of the time, only seeing light for two hours a day, lacking access to showers and subsisting on rice and pita bread.
President Joe Biden said in an address on Nov. 24 that the release “was the start of a process” and expected that “dozens more hostages will be returned to their families."

With reporting by Mallory Moench, Anna Gordon, Koh Ewe and Armani Syed

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