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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

More Israeli hostages expected to be freed after Gaza truce extended

The swap took place after the truce was reportedly extended two more days

The extension will also mean more aid can flow into Gaza where the humanitarian situation remains “catastrophic”.

A truce between Israel and Hamas was extended on Tuesday with the release of other Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners planned.

The agreement – mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States – first came into force on Friday.

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So far it has enabled the release of 50 hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel. Some 19 other hostages, mostly foreign workers, were freed by the Palestinian militants, though this came outside the deal.

The truce, due to expire Tuesday morning, was extended for two days to Thursday.

This should allow for the release of around 20 hostages and 60 additional prisoners, alongside further aid deliveries into Gaza where the humanitarian situation remains “catastrophic”.

Majed Bin Mohammed Al-Ansari, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of Qatar, said the extension was agreed under the same conditions as before: One hostage for three prisoners.

Read more: Gaza truce extended by two days by Israel-Hamas

Israel’s government received a list of ten hostages due to be released on Tuesday, without revealing their names, according to Israeli media.

During the night, eleven Israeli hostages were released from Gaza, including three with dual French nationality – Erez and Sahar Kalderon (12 and 16 years old), and Eitan Yahalomi.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “extremely happy” with the news.

There was “immense joy”, though “incomplete” because the father of Erez and Sahar remains in the hands of Hamas, the family’s lawyers told AFP.

Shortly after, Israel freed 33 Palestinians from its prisons. Most of those the Israelis have released have been children and young men – typically between ages 15-19 – imprisoned for stone-throwing or public disorder.

“I can’t describe what I feel. It’s an indescribable joy,” said Mohamed Abu al-Humus who was one of the Palestinians swapped on Monday.

Upon returning home to East Jerusalem, he hugged his mother and kissed her on the hand, according to an AFP team on site.

“It’s the best feeling in the world to have all your children around you, by your side,” she told reporters.

But in Beitunia, the occupied West Bank, where freed prisoners arrived in a white bus, the celebrations were short-lived: a young Palestinian, whose identity has not been confirmed, was “shot and killed” during violent clashes with Israeli forces nearby, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.