The latest updates on the Israel–Hamas war.
The Hamas terrorist group released a third group of hostages on Nov. 26. In return, Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners from its jails.
Hamas Seeks to Extend Hostage Deal
Hamas on Sunday for the first time said it would seek to extend the deal by looking to release a larger number of hostages.
The Israeli army’s chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said it was open to extending the cease-fire if more hostages are released.
Israel earlier said the truce can be extended by an extra day for every additional 10 hostages freed, but has vowed to quickly resume its offensive once it ends.
Palestinian Prisoners Released by Israel Arrive in West Bank
Thirty-nine Palestinian prisoners, all young men, arrived in the West Bank on Sunday after being released by Israel in a cease-fire deal with Hamas.
The release came hours after Hamas released 17 hostages it had been holding in the Gaza Strip. It was the third of four planned swaps under a cease-fire deal that is set to expire on Monday.
Thousands Cheer as Convoy Carrying Hostages Returns to Israel
Thousands of people carrying and draping themselves with Israeli flags gathered near the Hatzerim military base on Sunday as they cheered the arrival of hostages released from captivity inside Gaza.
Hamas released 17 hostages on Sunday, and Israel freed 39 Palestinian prisoners in return.
Israel Releasing 39 Palestinian Prisoners
Israel’s prison service said on Sunday that it had begun the process of releasing 39 Palestinian prisoners. A convoy of vehicles was seen leaving Ofer military prison in the West Bank.
A fourth exchange is expected on Monday—the last day of the cease-fire, during which a total of 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners are to be freed. All are women and minors.
Hamas said it had handed over 13 Israeli hostages, three Thais, and one with Russian citizenship on Sunday.
Hamas said it had released a Russian hostage “in response to the efforts of Russian President Vladimir Putin” and as a show of appreciation for Moscow’s position on the war. The Russian–Israeli citizen was the first male hostage to be freed.
Netanyahu Visits Gaza
Ahead of the latest release, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Gaza Strip, where he spoke with troops.
“We are making every effort to return our hostages, and at the end of the day we will return every one,” he said, adding that “we are continuing until the end, until victory. Nothing will stop us.”
It was not immediately clear where he went inside Gaza.
Mr. Netanyahu is expected to speak to U.S. President Joe Biden later on Sunday.
Biden Says 4-Year-Old American Hostage Released
President Biden said a 4-year-old U.S. hostage held by Hamas was released from captivity in Gaza and returned to Israel on Sunday, adding he was working to release other U.S. hostages.
President Biden said the Israeli American hostage, Abigail Edan, witnessed Hamas terrorists killing her parents during an Oct. 7 raid into Israel and had been held as a hostage since then. He said she turned 4 years old while in captivity.
“What she endured is unthinkable,” President Biden told a news conference.
Abigail was released as part of a deal to swap 50 hostages held by Hamas for 150 Palestinians in Israeli jails over a four-day truce period.
Hamas released 17 hostages on Sunday, and Israel was expected to free 39 prisoners in return.
13 Released Hostages Now in Israeli Territory
IDF special forces and ISA forces are currently accompanying 12 released hostages in Israeli territory to the Hatzerim Base.
An additional civilian landed at a hospital a short while ago.
In parallel, four additional released hostages are on their way to the Rafah Crossing.
3rd Group of Released Hostages on Their Way to Israel
The Israel Defense Forces said Red Cross representatives transferred 12 hostages over to IDF special forces and ISA forces adjacent to the border fence in the central Gaza Strip. From there, they will make their way to the Hatzerim Base.
One released hostage who returned to Israel was evacuated via a helicopter directly to a hospital.
In parallel, four released hostages were transferred over to Egypt through the Rafah Crossing, from which they will make their way to the meeting point with IDF soldiers in Israeli territory.
Red Cross Receives 3rd Group of Hostages From Hamas
The IDF said on Sunday that 14 Israeli hostages and three foreign national hostages have been transferred to the Red Cross, based on information that was received from the Red Cross.
Freed Hostage Mother, 5-Year-Old Daughter Return Home to Cheering Crowds
Finally making their way home, 45-year-old Danielle Aloni and her 5-year-old daughter Emilia, from Kibbutz Nir Oz were greeted with cheering crowds on Sunday.
Beaming a smile, both waved from inside the car to the cheering crowds lining along the roadside waving Israeli flags while blasting out the song “I’m coming home.” Danielle was also seen expressing gratitude.
The mother and daughter were among the first group of hostages released from captivity in Gaza on Friday as part of a truce between Hamas and Israel.
Attackers Seize Israel-Linked Tanker Off Yemen
Attackers seized a tanker linked to Israel off the coast of Yemen on Sunday. While no group immediately claimed responsibility, it comes as at least two other maritime attacks in recent days have been linked to the Israel–Hamas war.
The attackers seized the Liberian-flagged Central Park, managed by Zodiac Maritime, in the Gulf of Aden, the company and private intelligence firm Ambrey said.
Zodiac called the seizure “a suspected piracy incident.”
“Our priority is the safety of our 22 crew onboard,” Zodiac said in a statement. “The Turkish-captained vessel has a multinational crew consisting of a crew of Russian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Indian, Georgian, and Filipino nationals. The vessel is carrying a full cargo of phosphoric acid.”
Zodiac described the vessel as being owned by Clumvez Shipping Inc., though other records directly linked Zodiac as the owner. London-based Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. British corporate records listed two men with the last name Ofer as a current and former director of Clumvez Shipping, including Daniel Guy Ofer, who is also a director at Zodiac Maritime.
It wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the attack. Nearby Aden is held by forces allied to Yemen’s internationally recognized government and a Saudi-led coalition that has battled Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels for years. That part of the Gulf of Aden in theory is under the control of those forces and is fairly distant from Houthi-controlled territory in the country. Somali pirates also are not known to operate in that area.
Egypt Says It Received Lists for 3rd Exchange
Diaa Rashwan, chair of the Egyptian State Information Services, said Egypt had received a list of 13 hostages that Hamas will release Sunday and another list of 39 Palestinian prisoners that Israel is expected to free.
Biden Admin Believes an American Hostage Will Be Released Sunday
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the United States had “reason to believe” that an American hostage would be released Sunday and said there were hopes it would be Abigail Edan, the 4-year-old girl who lost her parents in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.
Sullivan also said that U.S. President Joe Biden would speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Sunday.
Hamas Says Top Commander Killed
Hamas announced the death of Ahmed al-Ghandour, who was in charge of northern Gaza and a member of its top military council. He is the highest-ranking terrorist known to have been killed in the fighting.
Al-Ghandour, believed to have been around 56 years old, had survived at least three Israeli attempts on his life and was involved in a cross-border attack in 2006 in which Palestinian terrorists captured an Israeli soldier, according to the Counter Extremism Project, an advocacy group based in Washington.
Hamas said that he was killed along with three other terrorists, including Ayman Siam, who Israel says was in charge of Hamas’ rocket-firing unit. The Israeli military mentioned both men in a Nov. 16 statement, saying it had targeted an underground complex where Hamas leaders were hiding.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.