Hamas, Israel release prisoners on third day of truce
By JAMES MACKENZIE, Reuters |
JERUSALEM – Hamas freed 17 hostages held in Gaza, including a 4-year-old American girl, while Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners on Sunday, the third day of their truce.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had successfully transferred 17 hostages from Gaza. Hamas said it had handed over 13 Israelis, three Thais and one with Russian citizenship.
The release of the hostages – part of a larger group captured when Hamas fighters rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7 – was mirrored by the freeing of 39 Palestinians, all of whom are teenagers, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Hamas said it wanted to extend the truce if serious efforts were made to increase the number of Palestinian detainees released by Israel.
U.S. President Joe Biden said he hoped the pause in fighting can go on as long as hostages are getting released. He hoped more Americans would be released by Hamas although he did not have firm news.
Biden said the 4-year-old hostage, Abigail Edan, had witnessed her parents being killed by Hamas fighters during their Oct. 7 raid into Israel and had been held since then.
“What she endured is unthinkable,” Biden said at a news conference in the U.S.
Abigail was on her way to the hospital for checks, Israel’s Channel 13 said. Her grandfather, Carmel Edan, told Reuters he “simply could not believe” she had been returned, thanking Biden “for all the help he’s offered us.”
Palestinians gave the freed prisoners a jubilant reception in Ramallah, according to WAFA.