Hamas frees Israeli, Thai hostages in temporary truce

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Thirteen Israelis and four Thai nationals arrived in Israel on Sunday in the second release of hostages from Hamas captivity in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in a deal briefly endangered by a dispute about aid delivery into Gaza.

Although overcome by the mediation of Egypt and Qatar, the dispute that threatened the truce to free captives underscored the fragility of the pact meant to release 50 hostages held by the Palestinian militant groups and 150 prisoners held in Israeli jails over four days.

Television images showed hostages on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing after leaving Gaza, as Hamas handed the captives to the International Committee of the Red Cross late on Saturday.

Six of the 13 Israelis released were women and seven were children and teenagers.

“The released hostages are on their way to hospitals in Israel, where they will reunite with their families,” the Israel Defence Force (IDF) said in a statement.

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Israel released 39 Palestinians – six women and 33 minors – from two prisons, the Palestinian news agency WAFA said.

Some of the Palestinians arrived at Al-Bireh Municipality Square in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where thousands of citizens awaited them, a Reuters witness said.

A Palestinian official familiar with the diplomatic moves said Hamas would continue the truce, the first halt in fighting since Hamas fighters rampaged through southern Israel on October 7, killing 1 200 people and taking about 240 hostages.