newsIsrael at War

Fourth hostage release back on track after Hamas tries to split families

Israeli authorities notified relatives of those set to be freed from captivity in Gaza.

Israelis in Tel Aviv rally for the release of hostages being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Nov. 24, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israelis in Tel Aviv rally for the release of hostages being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Nov. 24, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israeli authorities notified the relatives of those set to be freed on Monday evening from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip, as the deal with the terrorist organization appeared to be back on track.

“Following the receipt of the list of hostages set to be released today (Monday) as part of the outline, the information has been transmitted to the families of the hostages,” the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem said.

An Israeli official told CNN earlier on Monday that mothers were missing from the initial list, in violation of the terms of the agreement that Hamas would not separate mothers from their children.

Another source said that two hostages with U.S. citizenship were expected to be on the list, but that appears to be uncertain.

One Israeli source said no mothers were on the list but two other sources familiar with the matter said at least one mother was included, just not the full group of mothers anticipated.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told CNN that they are “working on this literally by the hour.”

Saturday’s list did not include 12-year-old Hila Rotem Shoshani’s mother, Raya Rotem. Also, Mia Regev, 21, was freed without her 18-year-old brother Itai.

Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch (res.), Israel’s coordinator for the captives and missing, said on Monday morning that officials were “discussing” the list and had not yet notified the families, an indication of a possible snag.

Qatari mediators were working with Israel and Hamas to resolve “issues” with the lists of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners to be released, an official briefed on the matter told Reuters.

“There is a slight issue with today’s lists. The Qataris are working with both sides to resolve it and avoid delays,” the official said.

An Israeli official told the Walla news site that he was “cautiously optimistic” the crisis would be resolved.

Hamas freed 40 Israeli captives in the first three days of the ceasefire that began on Friday morning. The deal calls for a total of 50 Israeli civilians, women and children, to be released over four days with the possibility of an extension.

JNS reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office to ask what time the ceasefire expires and at what would be the deadline for an extension, and received a response that “the information isn’t being released yet.”

Hamas released an “extra” Israeli hostage on Sunday, a man with dual Russian citizenship, in a gesture to President Vladimir Putin.

In addition to pausing its military activities in Gaza, Israel has agreed to free 150 jailed Palestinian terrorists and allow hundreds of trucks of goods into the enclave, as well as fuel.

Hamas released 13 Israeli women and children, Israeli-Russian man Roni Krivoi and three Thai nationals on Sunday, including Elma Avraham, 84, who was taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva in life-threatening condition.

Hamas has released a total of 19 foreign nationals as part of a side deal with Bangkok.

The Gaza-based terrorist group kidnapped some 240 people during its Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel, during which thousands of heavily armed gunmen murdered 1,200 people and wounded over 5,000 others.

One of the hostages released was Abigail Edan, 4, a dual Israeli-American citizen whose parents were murdered in front of her at their home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza.

“What she endured is unthinkable,” U.S. President Joe Biden said on Sunday. “Thank God she’s home. I just can’t imagine the enjoyment. I wish I were there to hold her.”

In a statement on Sunday, Hamas said that it was seeking to extend the truce beyond the four-day period if Israel makes a “serious effort” to increase the number of Palestinian terrorists released from prison.

Any extension of the agreement would see 10 hostages released per day for up to another six days (10 days in total) before Israel’s military operation in Gaza resumes.

Army Radio reported on Monday morning that Israel believes that Hamas is holding at least 20 more mothers, children and elderly women.

According to the report, Palestinian Islamic Jihad handed over to Hamas most of the mothers, children and elderly women it was holding captive.

However, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the Financial Times that there are more than 40 women and children in Gaza not held by Hamas and that the terror group needs time to locate them.

Other sources estimate the terrorists still hold about 180 hostages, including some 20 children and 40 women.

Hamas is using the ceasefire to move the hostages to different locations around the Gaza Strip, CNN reported on Monday.

Qatari and Egyptian mediators are leading talks between Israel and Hamas aimed at extending the truce by possibly up to four days, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

An Egyptian official told the newspaper that after women and children, elderly men would be given priority, followed by the bodies of deceased hostages. Hamas so far has only agreed to release women and minor civilians and not men or any female soldiers captured.

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