Israel-Hamas truce begins with swap of hostages, prisoners

Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners later in the day

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS/HOSTAGES People wave Israeli flags as a helicopter carrying hostages released as part of a deal between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas arrives at Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva | Reuters

A four-day cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war began Friday in Gaza as part of an agreement that Qatar helped broker. Twenty-four hostages were freed, including 13 Israeli citizens, 10 Thai citizens and one Filipino citizen, Qatar said. Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners later in the day.

With the truce deal comes increased shipments of fuel and supplies into Gaza though still only enough to dent the needs of the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza who have endured weeks of Israeli bombardment, according to aid groups. Israel has agreed to allow the delivery of 130,000 liters (34,300 gallons) of fuel a day into besieged Gaza for humanitarian needs for the duration of the truce.

More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza after a dayslong pause in its casualty report, which it attributed to the health system's collapse in northern Gaza making it impossible to provide a detailed count.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will press ahead with the war after the cease-fire expires. Some 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, mostly during the initial incursion by Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office says it has received a new list of hostages to be released by Hamas on Saturday.

It would be the second batch of hostages to be released by the Islamic militant group under a four-day truce.

Netanyahu's office says it has notified the families whose loved-ones are set for release.

Qatar's Foreign Ministry has confirmed the release of 24 hostages after seven weeks of captivity in the Gaza Strip. Those released include 13 Israeli citizens, some of whom are dual citizens, in addition to 10 Thai citizens and a Filipino citizen, said Majed al-Ansari, the ministry's spokesman. Qatar was a key mediator in the hostage release.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which delivered the hostages from Gaza into Egypt, also confirmed the release.

The hostages, women and children, were undergoing medical checks before they were to be transferred to Israel. They are to be taken to Israeli hospitals and reunited with their families. They're the first of 50 people to be released from Gaza during a four-day truce that began Friday.

Israel is to release 39 Palestinian prisoners later Friday, the first of a total of 150 Palestinian prisoners to be freed under the cease-fire.


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