KHAN Gaza Strip’s YOUNIS In exchange for several dozen Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel, Hamas was getting ready to free more than a dozen hostages on Saturday. This happened on the second day of a ceasefire, allowing vital humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip and providing residents with their first break after seven weeks of fighting.
Even if the specifics of the exchange were still unknown, scenes of happy families getting back together on both sides gave rise to hope. On the first day of the four-day ceasefire, Israel liberated 39 Palestinian prisoners. At the same time, Hamas released 24 of the approximately 240 captives it had abducted during its attack on Israel on October 7, which started the conflict. Thirteen Israelis, ten Thais, and one Filipino were set free in Gaza.
Hamas sent a list of 14 captives to be released to Egypt and Qatar on Saturday, and according to an Egyptian official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to discuss specifics of the current discussions, the list has been given to Israel. The information was verified by another Egyptian official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. Thirteen hostages will be traded for 39 inmates, according to the head of Egypt’s government press office and the state-run news organization Qahera.
Hamas will free one Israeli captive for every three inmates released under the terms of the peace accord. The Israeli Prison Service announced earlier on Saturday that it was getting ready to release 42 inmates. The number of non-Israeli captives who might also be released was not immediately apparent.
During the four-day truce, Hamas is expected to free 150 Palestinian inmates, including women and minors, and at least 50 Israeli captives.
According to Israel, the ceasefire can be prolonged by one day for every ten prisoners that are liberated, something that U.S. President Joe Biden expressed his hope will happen.
In a related development, a diplomat briefed on the travel stated that a delegation from Qatar came to Israel on Saturday to liaise with local parties and ensure the agreement “keeps moving smoothly.” The ambassador could not discuss specifics with the media, so he spoke pseudonymously.
For the 2.3 million Palestinians suffering from constant Israeli shelling that has resulted in thousands of deaths, forced the majority of the population from their homes, and leveled residential districts, the start of the truce on Friday morning marked the first moment of calm. The militants in Gaza stopped firing rockets into Israel.
The break allowed Emad Abu Hajer, who lives in the Gaza City neighborhood’s Jabaliya refugee camp, to once more go through the debris of his house, which was destroyed by an Israeli attack last week.
His discovery of the corpses of a cousin and nephew raised the number of attacker fatalities to 19. He started digging again on Saturday, even though his sister and two other family are still unaccounted for.
“Our goal is to locate them and bury them with honor,” he declared.
According to the U.N., the halt allowed them to increase the amount of food, water, and medication delivered—the highest since aid convoys resumed on October 21. In addition, it provided cooking gas for the first time since the start of the war and 129,000 liters (34,078 gallons) of fuel, or little more than 10% of the daily pre-war volume.
A large queue of people waiting outside a filling station on Saturday consisted of people carrying containers in the southern city of Khan Younis. Hossam Fayad regretted the fact that the violence barely stopped for four days.
“It should be prolonged until people’s circumstances improve,” he remarked.
The center of Israel’s ground battle, northern Gaza, received aid for the first time in more than a month. The most significant aid convoy to enter the area since the beginning of the conflict, consisting of 61 vehicles carrying food, water, and medical supplies, was reportedly heading there on Saturday by the Palestinian Red Crescent.
According to the U.N., 40 patients and their families were successfully transferred from a hospital in Gaza City—the epicenter of the fighting—to a hospital in Khan Younis by the Palestinian Red Crescent.
On the other hand, both sides have experienced tempered relief from the ceasefire. The notion that not all hostages will be released is significant to Israelis because of the briefness of the halt for Palestinians.
First Prisoners Released
Nine women and four children under nine were among the liberated Israelis. After being brought to Israeli hospitals for monitoring, it was determined that they were in good health.
Israelis hailed the good news but demanded more at a plaza in Tel Aviv known as “Hostages Square.” “Remember the others as the going gets tougher and tougher.” It’s devastating,” Tel Aviv resident Neri Gershon remarked.
There were several generations of captives. During Ohad Munder-Zichri’s visit to his grandparents at the kibbutz, where approximately 80 persons, or nearly a quarter of the community’s population, are thought to have lived, the nine-year-old was released along with his mother, Keren Munder and grandmother Ruti Munder.