update deskIsrael at War

Ten Israeli hostages freed as Hamas breaks ceasefire in Gaza

In addition to the 10 Israelis, Hamas released two hostages with foreign citizenship, the IDF said.

Red Cross vehicles carry released hostages released from Hamas captivity at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, on Nov. 24, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
Red Cross vehicles carry released hostages released from Hamas captivity at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, on Nov. 24, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.

Hamas released 10 Israeli hostages from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the first of two days of the extended ceasefire-for-hostages agreement, mere hours after the terror group attacked Israeli troops in northern Gaza in violation of the deal.

The Israeli hostages, all women and one minor, were handed over by Hamas terrorists to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza and were on their way to Israeli territory.

In addition to the 10 Israelis, Hamas released two hostages with Thai citizenship, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

“The Israeli government embraces the 12 hostages—10 of our citizens and two Thai citizens—who returned to Israeli territory today. Their families were informed by officials that they are back in Israel,” said a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Jerusalem named the Israelis freed on Sunday as Ditza Heiman, 84; Tamar Metzger, 78; Noralin Agojo, 60; Ada Sagi, 75; Meirav Tal, 54; Rimon Kirsht, 36; Ofelia Roitman, 77; Clara Marman, 62; and Gabriela Leimberg, 59, and her 17-year-old daughter Mia.

“The Israeli government is committed to the return of all hostages and missing persons. The government, together with all the security forces, will accompany them and their families,” Netanyahu’s office stated.

Mia Leimberg was released together with her dog, a Shih Tzu named Bella, according to photos shared on social media. Sheba Medical Center, where Mia is expected to be treated, announced that it would also treat the pet, per Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster.

Pushing for agreement to release male hostages

On Tuesday afternoon, the IDF charged that “three explosive devices were detonated adjacent to IDF troops in two different locations in northern Gaza,” in violation of the ceasefire agreement.

Israeli forces were also fired on by Hamas terrorists, according to the IDF. Soldiers returned fire while staying within the ceasefire directives.

Hamas propaganda chief Abu Obeida subsequently released a statement claiming the terrorist organization remained “committed to the truce as long as the enemy adheres to it.”

A total of 60 Israeli women and children, plus one Israeli man, have now been freed since the initial four-day ceasefire started on Friday morning, along with 17 Thais and one Filipino.

Hamas on Monday agreed to release 10 hostages per day as part of the Qatar-brokered extension, which could last up to six additional days before the IDF’s military operation against the terror group resumes.

Israel agreed to release three jailed Palestinian terrorists for each Israeli hostage as part of the deal, which also includes the entry of humanitarian aid and fuel into the Strip.

Hamas kidnapped some 240 people during its Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel, during which thousands of heavily armed gunmen murdered some 1,200 people and wounded more than 5,000 others.

Approximately 165 Israelis and foreigners are still in Hamas captivity, including Kfir Bibas, who was 9 months old when he was taken hostage on Oct. 7 along with his parents and 4-year-old brother.

The head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency landed in Doha on Tuesday ahead of meetings with U.S. and Qatari officials aimed at securing the release of additional hostages, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said, confirming earlier media reports.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi spoke with Mossad chief David Barnea by phone “ahead of the expected return of additional hostages later this evening,” according to Netanyahu’s office.

The Washington Post reported that CIA director William Burns is pushing for a future agreement to also include male hostages and IDF personnel held in the Gaza Strip. It was not clear if Israel would have to commit to releasing male terrorists in return.

“We are committed to completing this outline and bringing about the release of all of our hostages—all of them, without exception,” Netanyahu said during a visit to the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate.

“We are committed to completing these missions: Freeing all of the hostages, eliminating this terrorist organization above and below ground and—of course—that Gaza must not return to being what it was, that it will no longer constitute a threat to the State of Israel,” he added.

The IDF revealed on Tuesday that Hamas was holding the bodies of three soldiers abducted on Oct. 7, naming them as Staff Sgt. Tomer Yaakov Ahimas, 20, from Lehavim; Sgt. Kiril Brodski, 19, from Ramat Gan; and Sgt. Shaked Dahan, 19, from Afula.

Meanwhile, Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva announced that Elma Avraham, 84, who was released from Gaza on Sunday, is no longer in life-threatening condition.

“I’m happy to report that the last few hours have seen an improvement in her condition,” said professor Moti Klein, head of the hospital’s trauma unit. “She is awake, breathing on her own and no longer needs the same level of care as when she got here.”

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