More Israeli hostages released by Hamas
Hamas released nine Israeli children and two women on Monday evening in exchange for the release of dozens of Palestinians from Israeli prisoners. It was the fourth such swap since a short-term truce was declared last week.
According to the Times of Israel, the freed hostages are heading to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv to reunite with their families. The released Israelis include 34-year-old Sharon Aloni Cunio and her 3-year-old twin daughters. Cunio’s husband is still being held by Hamas.
All of the Israelis freed on Monday are from the kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the communities attacked by Palestinian militants on October 7.
Israel’s prison authority announced in the early hours of Tuesday that 33 Palestinians were being released from Israeli prisons to East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The Israeli government said in a statement that 50 Palestinian women had been added to “the list of prisoners eligible to be released in the event that a release of additional Israeli hostages is carried out.” The announcement came after the four-day truce between Israel and Hamas that was due to expire on Monday night was extended another 48 hours, according to Qatar, which mediated the negotiations.
The original deal to suspend hostilities was struck as the UN and human rights groups have been increasingly accusing Israel of indiscriminately bombarding Gaza. Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, said on Monday that the pause in the fighting “should be extended to make it sustainable and long-lasting while working for a political solution.” Israel and its top ally the US, however, insist that a ceasefire at this moment would only help Hamas.
Israel launched its military operation in Gaza on October 7, following a deadly attack by Hamas on Israeli communities, which left more than 1,200 people dead, mostly civilians. Over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the fighting erupted, according to local officials.