What we know about the first hostages released by Hamas

About two dozen hostages were released by Hamas in Gaza on Friday, the first wave of what is expected to be 50 released by the terrorist organization as part of a four-day cease-fire in the war with Israel in Gaza.

On the other side of the deal Friday, Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners — mostly women and teenagers.

Here’s what we know about the first group of hostages released by Hamas:

The group included Israelis, Thais and a Filipino

The first group of released hostages was headlined by 13 Israelis but also included 10 Thai nationals and a Filipino, according to a spokesman of the Qatar Foreign Ministry, which helped negotiate the deal that led to their release. 

The exact figures are not entirely clear, as Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said 12 Thai nationals had been released.

“I sincerely hope there will be more hostages released soon including the innocent Thais waiting to return home,” Thailand’s foreign minister wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Release reunites families, children

The group of Israelis consisted of women and children. All but one were abducted from the Nir Oz kibbutz on the Israel-Gaza border, according to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum. 

The freed hostages were handed by Hamas to the Red Cross before being flown by military helicopters to hospitals in Tel Aviv.

“They all underwent an initial medical assessment at the Kerem Shalom crossing, and their lives are not at risk,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari said. 

President Biden said each of the four children — ages 2, 4, 5, and 9 — were gifted a teddy bear at the hospital.

“All of these hostages have been through a terrible ordeal, and this is the beginning of a long journey of healing for them,” Biden said at a press conference Friday.

The group also includes six women over the age of 70, the oldest being 85. Three other women were released alongside their children, in addition to a 54-year-old school teacher.

Palestinians released in exchange

As part of a multi-stage deal negotiated between the U.S., Qatar, Israel and Hamas, Israel also agreed to release about 150 Palestinian prisoners — women and teenagers — from prisons to the West Bank.

The first 39 of those prisoners were released to the West Bank late Friday. Al Jazeera published a list of their names.

Israel’s Justice Ministry has reportedly provided a list of 300 prisoners it is considering for release under the deal.

Status of Americans unknown

In his Friday press conference, Biden added that he was uncertain about the health status of the approximately 10 Americans taken hostage by Hamas. They were not among the first group of released hostages.

“We don’t know when that will occur, but we expect it to occur,” Biden said of the release of American hostages.

The president also said he is “hopeful” that the four-day truce will be extended and more hostages will be released.

“That’s our goal,” he said of an extension to the deal.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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