Hamas and Israel Exchange More Hostages for Prisoners on 5th Day of Temporary Cease-Fire

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip—The Hamas terrorist group released 12 hostages and Israel released 30 Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday, the fifth day of a fragile cease-fire that has enabled humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza and that mediators hope to extend.

Israel said 10 of its citizens and two Thai nationals freed by Hamas terrorists returned to Israel. Soon after, Israel released the Palestinian prisoners. The truce is due to end after one more exchange Wednesday night.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit the region this week, with an eye to extending the truce.

Israel has vowed to resume the war with “full force” to destroy Hamas once it’s clear that no more hostages will be freed under the deal.

Hamas and other terrorists are still holding about 160 hostages out of the 240 seized in their Oct. 7 assault into southern Israel that ignited the war. Israel has said it is willing to extend the cease-fire by one day for every 10 additional hostages that Hamas releases, according to the deal brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the United States. But Hamas is expected to make much higher demands for the release of captive soldiers.

Israel has vowed to end Hamas’s 16-year rule in Gaza and crush its military capabilities.

Hostages and Prisoners Released

The latest group of Israeli hostages freed from Gaza—nine women and a 17-year-old—was flown to hospitals in Israel, the Israeli military said.

Tuesday’s hostage release brought to 60 the number of Israelis freed under the terms of the truce between Israel and Hamas. An additional 21 hostages—19 Thais, one Filipino, and one Russian-Israeli—have been released in separate negotiations since the truce began.

Earlier in the war, Hamas terrorists released four Israeli hostages, and the Israeli army rescued one during its offensive in Gaza. Three other hostages were found dead in Gaza.

The latest swap brought to 180 the number of Palestinian women and teenagers freed from Israeli prisons. Most have been teenagers accused of throwing stones and firebombs during confrontations with Israeli forces. Several released women were convicted by Israeli military courts of attempting to carry out deadly attacks.

Israel imposed a siege on Gaza at the start of the war and only allowed a trickle of food, water, medicine, and fuel to enter prior to the cease-fire.

Tuesday saw the first major exchange of fire between Israeli troops and Hamas terrorists in northern Gaza since the cease-fire began Friday. Each side blamed the other for the outbreak, but no further violence followed and the swap went ahead. Still, it underscored the fragility of the truce, with the warring sides holding their positions in close proximity to each other.

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