Israel releases 33 more Palestinian prisoners, truce extended for 2 more days

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The Israeli prison service on Tuesday confirmed the release of 33 Palestinian inmates after Hamas freed 11 additional hostages on the fourth day of the temporary ceasefire which will now be extended for two more days. The 33 prisoners, comprising 30 children and three women, were released from the prisons in Damon, Megiddo, Ofer, Ktzi’ot, Ramon and Nafha, CNN quoted the service as saying. With Monday’s releases, Israel has so far freed 150 Palestinians from prison, mainly women and minors, since the truce came into force on November 24.

Many of these prisoners were detained but never charged. Meanwhile, Hamas has so far released 69 hostages, primarily women and children. On Monday, the Palestinian militant group freed the fourth batch of 11 Israeli hostages who were held in Gaza. The Qatari Foreign Ministry said the 11 released hostages were all dual nationals, comprising three Israeli-French citizens, two Israeli-German citizens, and six Israeli-Argentinian citizens. Also in a statement, the Israeli military confirmed that the newly released hostages had arrived in Israel after being transferred by Hamas to the Red Cross.

“IDF (Israel Defense Forces) special forces and ISA (Israel Security Agency) forces are currently accompanying 11 released hostages in Israeli territory,” the statement read, adding that “after they undergo an initial medical assessment, our forces will escort them until they are reunited with their families”. They were released 52 days after being taken hostage by the Hamas following its deadly assault against Israel on October 7. Of the about 240 hostages captured by Hamas, less than one-third have been released so far, according to IDF figures.

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Early Tuesday morning, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said that it had received a new list of hostages to be released in the day by the Hamas. The latest swap came just hours before the four-day truce was due to expire. Qatar has said that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a two-day extension. Over the next two days, Hamas has committed to releasing another 20 women and children, according to US national security spokesman John Kirby. Under the initial four-day deal, the militant group was required to release 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for some 150 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

Israel had said previously that the release of every additional 10 hostages would result in one additional day in the pause. Hamas said in a statement to Xinhua that the extension of the truce will be carried out “under the same conditions as listed in the previous ceasefire deal”. Further lorry-loads of humanitarian supplies entered the Gaza Strip on Monday with food, fuel and medicines being distributed by aid organisations As of Tuesday morning, more than 14,800 people have been killed in Gaza since the eruption of the hostilities, including about 6,000 children and 4,000 women. The death toll in Israel stood at over 1,200 and the West Bank has reported at least 231 fatalities.