24 hostages have been released after seven weeks of captivity in the Gaza Strip, including 13 Israeli citizens, some of whom are dual citizens, in addition to 10 Thai citizens and a Filipino citizen.
The hostages, women and children, were undergoing medical checks before they were to be transferred to Israel. They are to be taken to Israeli hospitals and reunited with their families.
An elite unit of the IDF and a force of the Shin Bet are now accompanying the abductees returning to Israel, remaining with them them until they reach their families in the hospitals.
The 13 freed Israelis are all from Kibbutz Nir Oz. They are:
Aviv Asher, 2
Raz Asher, 4
Emilia Aloni, 5
Ohad Mondar, 9
Doron Asher, 34
Danielle Aloni, 44
Keren Mondar, 54
Adina Moshe, 72
Hanna Katzir, 77
Ruth Mundar, 78
Margalit Mozes, 78
Channa Peri, 79
Yaffa Adar, 85
“We will continue to work together with the bodies of the security system for the return of all the abductees,” the IDF said.
Following initial checks, the hostages will be sent to one of six Israeli hospitals: Soroka Medical Center, Sheba Medical Center, Wolfson Medical Center, Ichilov Hospital, Shamir Medical Center or Schneider Children’s Medical Center.
Medical staff from the Health Ministry will determine where each released hostage will go. Mothers and children will not be separated. The hostages’ close family members will be notified as to where their loved ones are being transferred and will reunite with them there.
Hanna Katzir — who the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed earlier this month had died in captivity in a gruesome example of psychological warfare — is among the 13 Israelis released, her family confirms.
The hostages are the first of 50 people to be released from Gaza during a four-day truce that began Friday. Israel is to release 39 Palestinian prisoners later Friday, the first of a total of 150 Palestinian prisoners to be freed under the cease-fire.
There were no reports of fighting in the hours after the truce began.
The release of the first group of Israeli hostages was to be followed in the evening by the freeing of 39 Palestinian prisoners — 24 women, including some convicted of attempted murder for attacks on Israeli forces, and 15 teenagers jailed for offenses like throwing stones.
Israel has said it is determined to resume its massive offensive once the cease-fire ends.
Under the deal, at least 50 are to be released — bringing relief but also bitterness that not all will be freed. It was not clear if the Thai captives were included that figure. Israel is to free 150 Palestinian prisoners.
Ahead of Friday evening’s release, thousands of Israelis gathered in what has been dubbed “Hostages Square” in Tel Aviv, singing songs to welcome Shabbos.
“My emotions are mixed,” said Shelli Shem Tov, the mother of 21-year-old Omer Shem Tov, told Israeli’s Channel 12 at the square. “I’m excited for the families that are going to hug their loved ones, I’m jealous, and I’m sad, mostly sad that Omer is not coming home yet.”
Footage from Egypt’s Rafah crossing showed a line of ambulances emerging from Gaza.
The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed it had delivered a total of 24 hostages to the Egyptians. But it declined to provide details on their nationalities, or explain the discrepancy in the numbers.