As Hamas Releases More Hostages, Longer Cease-Fire Appears Possible

A 3rd group of Gaza Strip hostages, together with a 4-year-old American lady whose mother and father have been killed within the Hamas raids on Israel, was freed on Sunday, elevating the prospect extra captives could possibly be let loose and a fragile truce prolonged.

The 17 hostages launched by Hamas, who have been seized when the militants raided Israel on Oct. 7, included three Thai residents, one Russian and the little lady Avigail Idan, a twin American-Israeli citizen who was kidnapped from a kibbutz. She marked her fourth birthday in captivity in Gaza on Friday.

“Thank God she’s home,” President Biden stated to reporters in Nantucket, Mass., the place he spent the Thanksgiving vacation. “I wish I was there to hold her.”

Much hinged on the newest launch of hostages, who have been exchanged for 39 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel on the third day of a four-day truce.

With each Israel and Hamas poised to renew preventing at a second’s discover, a collapse of the settlement may need shortly led to a resumption of the hostilities which have already killed 1000’s of individuals. It may additionally have choked off the desperately wanted provides which have solely simply started making their technique to civilians in Gaza.

Instead, late Sunday, responding to a suggestion by Israel so as to add at some point to the cease-fire for each 10 hostages launched, Hamas stated it, too, was concerned about extending the settlement. Nevertheless, visiting Israeli troops in Gaza on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that “we are continuing until the end — until victory.”

Later, in a video assertion issued quickly after Hamas prompt extending the truce, Mr. Netanyahu stated he would welcome that.

Just a day earlier, as a second spherical of hostage releases was nearing, 11th-hour problems prompted hypothesis that the deal is likely to be lifeless.

Hamas and its allies seized an estimated 240 hostages once they attacked southern Israel final month, killing about 1,200 folks, most of them civilians. In Israel’s responding air and floor assaults on Gaza, which is managed by Hamas, greater than 13,000 folks have been reported killed.

On Friday, after protracted negotiations involving Qatar and the United States, Israel and Hamas paused the preventing for 4 days to permit the hostages to be launched and food and different provides to enter devastated Gaza neighborhoods.

Under the preliminary phrases of the deal, Israel and Hamas agreed to a truce to permit for the trade of 50 hostages held by Hamas and 150 Palestinian women and youths in Israel jails.

For residents of Gaza, struggling to seek out food, water, gasoline and medical care, the deal provided hope that primary provides would once more be allowed throughout borders blockaded by Israel and Egypt.

On Sunday, the Egyptian authorities stated that 200 help vehicles had entered Gaza yesterday, together with seven vehicles carrying 129,000 liters of diesel gasoline. It stated later that as of Sunday afternoon, 120 extra vehicles had entered, together with two carrying gasoline and two with cooking gasoline, and that the quantity was anticipated to extend within the coming hours.

The data that has trickled out of northern Gaza factors to a grim wrestle for survival.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Gaza and the West Bank studies that individuals in northern Gaza have been eating unripe fruit and the few uncooked greens remaining, and that they can not discover bread. Livestock has been dying for lack of feed, and crops are being more and more deserted for lack of gasoline to pump irrigation water, the workplace stated.

In scattered interviews earlier than the truce took maintain, folks in Gaza stated they have been burning cardboard to prepare dinner what little food they’d left and filtering nonpotable water via clothes in an try to wash it.

Mr. Biden stated the objective now was to construct on the cease-fire.

“More is needed, but this deal is delivering lifesaving results,” he stated. “Critical aid is going in, and hostages are coming out. This deal is structured so that it can be extended to keep building on these results. That’s my goal, that’s our goal, to keep this pause going beyond tomorrow.”

In his go to to Israeli troops on Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu stated, “We are making every effort to bring back our hostages, and eventually we will return them all.”

Television photos confirmed folks lining the street outdoors an air base in southern Israel, waving flags and cheering because the convoy of minibuses carrying 12 of the freed hostages made its method inside.

Their freedom got here as accounts started to emerge from hostages launched final week.

The freed hostages haven’t spoken on to the information media. Most are nonetheless being handled in non-public areas of Israeli hospitals, and far of the details about the place, and the way, they have been held stays categorised.

But family members who’ve spoken with them stated all appeared to have spent their weeks in captivity completely lower off from the skin world, and to have returned thinner than earlier than.

“They were eating, but not regularly and not all of the time,” stated Merav Mor Raviv, a cousin of Keren Munder, 54, who was launched on Friday alongside together with her son, Ohad Munder-Zichri, 9, and her mom, Ruth Munder, 78.

“They ate a lot of rice and bread,” Ms. Raviv stated.

Ruth Munder discovered solely after being freed that her son Roi had been killed on Oct. 7, Ms. Raviv stated. But she additionally discovered that her husband, Avraham Munder, whom she had believed lifeless, was nonetheless alive, although captive in Gaza.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman of the Israeli navy, stated one other hostage, Elma Avraham, was flown by military helicopter straight from Gaza to an Israeli hospital in critical situation. The Israeli navy stated 4 others — one Israeli and three international residents — had crossed into Egypt.

Within hours of the hostages’ launch on Sunday, Israel’s jail service stated it had launched 39 Palestinians in its custody.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Ziad Dawoud, 53, had been awaiting phrase on whether or not his 17-year-old son, Tariq, could be amongst these freed. The younger man was accused virtually a yr in the past of throwing stones at Israeli troopers.

When he discovered that his son was being launched, he stated, Mr. Dawoud raced from their hometown, Qalqiliya, to Ramallah, the place a whole bunch had gathered outdoors the Ofer jail. After his son stepped off the bus of freed prisoners, he stated, the 2 hugged and the youthful Dawoud went to kiss his father’s toes in an indication of respect.

His father refused to let him.

“I told him: ‘Oh my son, my love,’” Mr. Dawoud stated.

The prisoner exchanges elated members of the family removed from Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Three of the hostages launched on Sunday are Thais who had been working in Israel when the Hamas combatants crossed the border. Among them was Anucha Angkaew, who appeared in {a photograph} that circulated on social media displaying him with three different males being held at gunpoint, palms behind their backs.

His mom, Watsana Yojampa, stated Sunday that Thai officers had confirmed that he was now free.

“I’m so glad, so delighted, that no words can explain,” Ms. Watsana stated.

Anna Betts, Peter Baker, Nadav Gavrielov and Lisa Friedman contributed reporting.

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