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Fifth Group of Hosatages Released After Israel and Hamas Agree to Extend Cease-Fire

Twelve more hostages who were held in Gaza were released on Tuesday, according to the Red Cross and the Israel Defense Forces, after a humanitarian pause in fighting between Hamas and Israel was extended on Monday for an additional 48 hours. Red Cross representatives transferred the 12 hostages to Egypt, the IDF said. 

In exchange, 30 Palestinians were released from Israeli prisons — 15 minors and 15 women, Dr. Majed Al-Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement. The Israel Prison Service later on Tuesday released the names of the 30 freed prisoners.

None of the hostages released Tuesday were American. The group included 10 Israelis, one Filipino, two Argentinians and two Thai citizens, according to Al-Ansari. One Israeli is a minor and nine are women, he said.

The announcement came after dozens of Israeli hostages and more than 100 Palestinian prisoners were released on Monday and over the weekend, including the first American hostage released by Hamas, 4-year-old Abigail Mor Edan. The Israeli-American girl was also the youngest American being held hostage.

On Monday, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirmed a two-day extension of a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, which began on Friday and was initially set to last four days, as part of a truce deal between Israel and Hamas negotiated by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt. It hinged on Hamas’ pledge to release at least 50 women and children taken captive in Israel on Oct. 7, and Israel’s pledge to release at least 150 Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons. Israel also agreed to adhere to a cease-fire agreement in Gaza.

The temporary pause in fighting was the first since Israel declared war on Hamas in the aftermath of militants’ deadly rampage on Oct. 7, which Israeli officials have said killed 1,200 people. Hamas kidnapped an estimated 240 people from Israel and held them captive in Gaza in the aftermath of Hamas’ rampage, according to the officials.

Mediating country Qatar announced that Israel and Hamas had reached a deal to extend the cease-fire for another 48 hours on Monday, ahead of the original deal’s expected expiration at 7 a.m. local time on Tuesday morning. Israel had previously said it would be willing to extend the cease-fire in Gaza, much of which has been decimated by Israeli military airstrikes in the wake of Oct. 7, if Hamas agreed to free additional hostages. Israel had said it would honor an additional day of the cease-fire for every 10 additional hostages released by Hamas.

On Monday, Kirby said at a news briefing that Hamas had agreed to release 20 additional hostages over the two-day extension that followed. He said there was also work being done to further extend the cease-fire.

The Israeli government released a list of 50 more Palestinian prisoners that it said could be released as part of continued exchanges. A spokesperson for the Israeli government, Eylon Levy, told the media on Tuesday that “the current hostage release pause can be extended for another five days on the basis of the three for one swap,” meaning three Palestinian prisoners would be released from Israel for every hostage released by Hamas.

“Once Hamas stops returning hostages, we will resume the military pressure on Hamas until it releases more of them,” Levy said.

The hostages released by Hamas since Friday have so far been women and children. The militant group, designated a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, told CBS News on Monday that it was interested in negotiating another deal that would further extend the cease-fire and include the release of male hostages and abducted Israeli soldiers.

A U.S. official confirmed to CBS News on Tuesday that CIA Director William Burns was in Doha for meetings on the Israel-Hamas conflict, including discussion about the hostages.

Israel says around 170 people remain captive in Gaza, but Hamas says some of them are being held by other groups. The Biden administration says it will work on securing more extensions to the cease-fire until all the hostages are released.

Source: CBS News