Hamas releases 25 captives amid Israel truce: Here’s what’s to know | Israel-Palestine conflict News

After weeks of negotiations, Hamas on Friday released the first batch of captives it had agreed to set free under a truce deal with Israel that came into effect in the morning.

Fighters took 237 people into captivity from Israel after Hamas’s October 7 attack. Under the deal for a four-day truce, Hamas is to release 50 captives in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel and a pause in fighting. However, more than those numbers might be released, officials indicated.

The deal was reached, and announced by Qatar, on Wednesday, while the truce officially started at 7:00am local time (5:00 GMT) on Friday.

Here is what we know about the captives released by Hamas and those who are still in Gaza.

How many captives were released on Friday?

In all, 25 captives were freed by Hamas on Friday. While initially, the plan was for Hamas to release 13 captives — women and children — it eventually also released 12 Thai captives in addition.

The Prime Minister of Thailand announced the release of the Thai nationals on X.

All 25 captives were transferred by Hamas to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who crossed them over from Gaza into Egypt through the Rafah crossing.

The captives were handed over to Egyptian authorities.

At what time were they released?

The 12 Thai captives were released just before 4:00pm local time (14:00 GMT).

About half an hour later, the 13 other captives were released, Hamas officials told AFP.

On the Egyptian side of the border, the freed Israeli captives met representatives of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, according to the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Medical staff, soldiers and helicopters are also waiting for them. The released captives will be taken in helicopters to hospitals in Tel Aviv for medical and psychological assessments.

At the hospitals, captives will also reunite with their families, the Israeli army said earlier on Friday.

Which captives will be released?

The 12 Thai captives who were freed on Friday are among 23 who were captured by Palestinian fighters during their attack on southern Israel on October 7.

On Thursday, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that it received an initial list of the 13 others to be freed and was in contact with their families.

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However, relatives of the first group have not commented on the release. The Israeli government has reportedly warned them to not speak with the media and asked news outlets to not publish names accessed through any leaks.

Who might be released next?

The 13 captives who were originally to be released today are among the 50 that Hamas has committed to freeing over four days under the truce agreement.

But with the 12 Thai captives also being released, the total number of those whom Hamas frees during the truce is expected to exceed 50.

Three US citizens and eight French citizens are among those who could be freed in the later batches of released captives during the truce, according to officials from the two countries. The three American captives include two women and a three-year-old girl whose parents were killed in the initial Hamas attack.

Ghazi Hamad, member of Hamas’s political bureau, told Al Jazeera that they are focused on releasing civilians for now. Hamad added that a comprehensive release of captives, including Israeli soldiers, would require an exchange with all 7,200 Palestinians who are imprisoned.

How many captives does Hamas have and who are they?

Palestinian fighters took 237 people into captivity during its Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, according to Israel, although not all of them are currently with Hamas.

Other resistance groups in the Gaza Strip, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are also holding some captives. The finalisation of the truce deal involved the agreement of all resistance brigades via phone call, said Hamas prior to the deal’s announcement.

Hamas fighters abducted the captives during raids on an outdoor music festival, collective farms called kibbutzim, and military bases in Israel on October 7.

Not all captives are Israeli. At least half are foreign and dual nationals hailing from approximately 40 countries including the US, Thailand, United Kingdom, France, Argentina, Germany, Chile, Spain and Portugal, according to the Israeli government.

At least 33 captives are children, including preschoolers and a 10-month-old baby, according to Israel. They have also reported that others in the group include soldiers, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Hamas has said that the captives are housed in “safe places and tunnels”. Freed captives have reported sleeping on mattresses on floors of tunnels and being provided medical care.

Have any captives been released from Gaza?

Hamas has previously released four captives that were being held in Gaza.

The first pair of captives freed was an American mother-daughter duo on October 20, following Qatari meditation.

Three days later, two elderly women were returned to Israel on “humanitarian reasons and poor health grounds”, following mediation led by Egypt and Qatar.

Israel’s military has said that it rescued one abducted soldier, Ori Megidish, and found the body of another near al-Shifa Hospital. Hamas has said that Israeli air attacks have killed 50 captives in Gaza, including their army conscript, Noa Marciano, near the hospital.

On November 16, Israel’s military also said it recovered the body of a civilian captive, Yehudit Weiss, near al-Shifa.

On Tuesday, the PIJ said one elderly woman, Hanna Katzir, died in captivity owing to Israel “stalling” her release after the group offered to return her for humanitarian reasons. Israel has not responded to these claims.


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