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Second Batch of Hostages Released in Israel-Hamas Deal

On Sunday, thirteen Israelis and four Thai nationals arrived in Israel as part of Hamas's second phase of hostage release.

Thirteen Israelis and four Thai nationals arrived in Israel on Sunday in the second phase of the release of hostages by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. 

This exchange, part of a larger deal involving 50 hostages held by Hamas for 150 prisoners in Israeli jails, underscored the fragility of the truce.

Dispute Over Aid Delivery Threatens Truce:

A dispute over aid delivery into Gaza briefly jeopardized the truce but was resolved through mediation by Egypt and Qatar. 

The hostages were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing.

The group of 13 Israelis included six women and seven teenagers or children. Among them was three-year-old Yahel Shoham, accompanied by her mother and brother. The father remains a hostage. 

All the released hostages were headed to hospitals in Israel to reunite with their families, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Prisoner Exchange Details:

In exchange for the hostages, Israel released 39 Palestinians, including six women and 33 minors, from two prisons, as reported by the Palestinian news agency WAFA. 

Some released Palestinians arrived at Al-Bireh Municipality Square in Ramallah, where thousands of citizens welcomed them.

Ongoing Truce and Fragile Situation:

A Palestinian official familiar with diplomatic moves stated that Hamas would continue the truce, marking the first halt in fighting since Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel on October 7. The conflict has resulted in significant casualties, with around 14,800 people killed, approximately 40% of them children, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Previous Releases and Remaining Hostages:

Saturday’s release followed the initial release of 13 Israeli hostages on the previous day. The exchange also involved the release of 39 Palestinian women and teenagers from Israeli prisons. 

On Friday, Hamas released a Philippine national and 10 Thai farm workers. Eighteen Thais remain captive, according to Thailand’s foreign ministry.

Reactions to the Hostage Release:

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin of Thailand stated that the four freed Thai nationals “want a shower and to contact their relatives.” 

While expressing relief over the release, the situation remains complex, reflecting the region’s delicate nature of negotiations and truce agreements.

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