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update deskIsrael at War

Hamas releases two hostages held in Gaza since Oct. 7 massacre

Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, were abducted during the Palestinian terror group's invasion that killed 1,400 people in Israel.

Yocheved Lifshitz (left) and Nurit Cooper, both from Kibbutz Nir Oz near the border with the Gaza Strip, were released from Hamas captivity on Oct. 23, 2023. Source: X/Screenshot
Yocheved Lifshitz (left) and Nurit Cooper, both from Kibbutz Nir Oz near the border with the Gaza Strip, were released from Hamas captivity on Oct. 23, 2023. Source: X/Screenshot

Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Gal Hirsch, Israeli coordinator for the captives and missing, confirmed on Monday night that the Hamas terrorist organization had released Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85.

“The two women were abducted from their homes in Kibbutz Nir Oz during the murderous assault on Saturday, Oct. 7,” Hirsch stated. “Nurit Cooper’s husband, Amiram, 85, and Yocheved Lifshitz’s husband, Oded, 83, who were abducted with them are still being held by the brutal terrorist organization along with the other captives.

“We will continue to do everything possible for their return,” he said.

The two women are en route to a hospital, where family members will meet them, Hirsch stated. “We thank Egypt, for its assistance, and the Red Cross for their important role in saving lives.”

Earlier on Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross stated that it had “facilitated the release of two more hostages by transporting them out of Gaza this evening.” The organization said it was “glad that these persons will be soon reunited with their families and loved ones.”

“This is not a deal; it’s a unilateral move we had no part in,” political officials in Jerusalem told Israel’s Channel 12.

Both women reportedly only hold Israeli citizenship, although Lifshitz has family in Canada.

Not party to ‘selection,’ says Israeli government

Earlier on Monday, The New York Times reported that Qatar and the United States were negotiating the release of abductees with dual nationality separately from those who have only Israeli citizenship.

Senior Israeli officials have consistently denied involvement in any kind of negotiations related to the release of the Israeli captives.

“Israel will not be a party to a ‘selection’ for holders of foreign passports for release,” a diplomatic source inside the Israeli prime minister’s office was quoted as saying on Monday.

Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Monday that the military has so far confirmed that terrorists kidnapped 222 people during Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, in which 1,400 people were massacred in Israel and more than 4,500 were wounded.

On Friday, the terror group freed the first two hostages for what it called “humanitarian reasons.”

“Judith Tai Raanan and her daughter, Natalie Shoshana Raanan, were released by the terrorist organization Hamas,” the Israeli prime minister’s office confirmed. The pair was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nahal Oz during the Oct. 7 invasion of the western Negev.

Also last week, Hamas released a video showing an Israeli abductee with European citizenship.

“I’m Mia Shem, 21 years old from Shoham. Currently, I’m in Gaza. I returned early Saturday morning from Sderot—I was at a party. I was seriously injured in my hand,” the woman says in the clip. She calls on Israel to “get me out of here as soon as possible.”

Shem, a dual French-Israeli national, was kidnapped while attending a music festival in the desert near Kibbutz Re’im, where Hamas gunmen murdered at least 260 festival-goers.

Among the 222 people who were taken hostage were some 20 to 30 children and 10 to 20 people over the age of 60. The hostages included citizens of eight or nine countries in addition to Israel.

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