KHAN YOUNIS (Gaza Strip) – Hamas is preparing to release more than a dozen hostages on Saturday in exchange for dozens of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, on the second day of a ceasefire that allowed vital humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip and gave civilians their first rest since then. Seven weeks of war.
While uncertainty remained over the details of the exchange, there was also optimism, amid scenes of happy families reunited on both sides. On the first day of Four-day ceasefireHamas released 24 of the 240 hostages taken during its operations October 7 attack Against Israel, which ignited the war, and Israel released 39 Palestinians from prisons. Those released in Gaza are 13 Israelis 10 Thais and two Filipinos.
On Saturday, Hamas presented Brokers Egypt and Qatar With a list of 14 hostages to be released, they were handed over to Israel, according to an Egyptian official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to talk about details of the ongoing negotiations. A second official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed these details. The head of the Egyptian government press office and the state-run Cairo News Agency said that 13 hostages would be exchanged for 39 prisoners.
But Hamas said on Saturday evening that it was postponing the release of the second group of hostages, claiming that Israel had not adhered to the terms of the agreement and had not provided sufficient aid to the besieged Strip. Hamas did not specify the duration of the postponement. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees said 196 aid trucks entered on Friday, and Israel said four fuel trucks and four gas tanks entered on Saturday.
Under the truce agreement, Hamas will release one Israeli hostage for every three prisoners released. The Israeli Prison Service said earlier on Saturday that it was preparing 42 prisoners for release. It was not immediately clear how many non-Israeli prisoners might also be released.
Overall, Hamas will release at least 50 Israeli hostages, and Israel 150 Palestinian prisoners, during the four-day truce – all of them women and minors.
Israel said the truce could be extended by an additional day for every 10 additional hostages released – something US President Joe Biden has said he hopes will happen.
Separately, a Qatari delegation arrived in Israel on Saturday to coordinate with parties on the ground and “ensure the deal continues smoothly,” according to a diplomat familiar with the visit. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details with the media.
The beginning of the truce brought the first calm for about 2.3 million Palestinians suffering from the continuous Israeli bombing that claimed the lives of thousands. It is led by three-quarters of the population From their homes and Flat residential areas. The firing of rockets by Gaza activists into Israel stopped.
War-weary Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip, the center of the Israeli ground offensive, returned to the streets, grinding through rubble between destroyed buildings, and sometimes digging through it with their bare hands. At the Indonesian hospital in Jabalia, which was besieged by the Israeli army earlier this month, bodies were lying in the courtyard and outside the main gate.
For Imad Abu Hajar, a resident of Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza City area, the pause means he can once again search the remains of his house, which was leveled in an Israeli attack last week.
The bodies of his cousin and nephew were found, bringing the death toll in the attack to 19. With his sister and two other relatives missing, he resumed digging on Saturday.
He added: “We want to find them and bury them with dignity.”
The United Nations said that the pause enabled it to do so Expand food deliveryWater and medicines are in the largest volume since the resumption of aid convoys on October 21. It also managed to deliver 129,000 liters (34,078 gallons) of fuel – just over 10% of the pre-war daily volume – as well as humanitarian aid. Cooking gas, for the first time since the start of the war.
In the southern city of Khan Yunis, on Saturday, a long line of people carrying containers waited outside the gas filling station. Hossam Fayyad expressed his regret that the cessation of fighting was only for four days.
“I hope it will be extended so that people’s conditions improve,” he said.
For the first time in more than a month, aid has arrived in northern Gaza. The Palestinian Red Crescent said that 61 trucks carrying food, water and medical supplies headed there on Saturday, the largest aid convoy to reach the region so far.
The United Nations said that it and the Palestinian Red Crescent were also able to evacuate 40 patients and their family members from a hospital in Gaza City, where most of the fighting took place, to a hospital in Khan Yunis.
However, the relief brought by the ceasefire has been tempered. For the Israelis, by the fact that Not all hostages will be released. For the Palestinians, in short, pause.
At least two Palestinians were injured Saturday at a tense checkpoint in the West Bank where Israel was set to release prisoners. The Israeli occupation forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the Palestinians gathered at the Beitunia checkpoint. It is not clear how the two were injured.
The first hostages were released
Among the released Israelis were nine women and four children aged 9 years or younger. They were transferred to Israeli hospitals for observation, and their condition was declared good.
In a square dubbed “Hostage Square” in Tel Aviv, a crowd of people celebrated the good news but demanded more. “Don’t forget about others because it’s getting harder and harder and harder. It’s heartbreaking,” said Neri Gershon, a Tel Aviv resident.
Some families accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of murder Don’t do enough To return the hostages home.
The hostages included multiple generations. Nine-year-old Ohad Munder Zakri was released along with his mother, Keren Munder, and grandmother, Ruti Munder. He was kidnapped during a visit to his grandparents on Kibbutz Nir Oz, where about 80 people are believed to have been kidnapped – nearly a quarter of the community’s population.
Hours later, 24 Palestinian women and 15 teenage boys were released from Israeli prisons in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Teenagers were imprisoned for minor crimes such as throwing stones. Among the women were a number of those convicted of attempting to stab Israeli soldiers.
Palestinian prisoner Aseel Munir Al-Titi said: “It is happiness tinged with sadness, because our release from prison came at the expense of the lives of martyrs and the innocence of children.”
According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, an advocacy group, Israel detains 7,200 Palestinians, including about 2,000 who have been arrested since the beginning of the war.
The war broke out when several thousand Hamas fighters broke out Invasion of southern IsraelAs a result, about 1,200 people were killed, most of them civilians, and dozens of hostages were taken, including children, women, and the elderly, as well as soldiers.
Israeli leaders said they would eventually resume fighting and would not stop until Hamas, which has controlled Gaza for 16 years, is crushed. Israeli officials say only military pressure can return the hostages to their homeland. But the government is under pressure from the hostages’ families to prioritize the release of the remaining prisoners.
The Israeli attack led to the deaths of more than 13,300 Palestinians, according to the report Ministry of Health In the Hamas government in Gaza. Women and minors consistently make up about two-thirds of the dead. The figure does not include updated numbers from hospitals in the north, where Communications have collapsed.
Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Julia Frankel in Jerusalem contributed.
Complete AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
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