Thirteen Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip have finally been handed over to officials from Egypt and the Red Cross.
Nearly seven weeks after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, those taken by the terror group are slowly returning home.
A deal was brokered earlier this week that would see 50 hostages taken by Hamas handed over in return for 150 Palestinian prisoners.
The handover is taking place during a four day ceasefire in-fighting.
A Red Cross vehicle, as part of a convoy believed to be carrying hostages abducted by Hamas militants during the October 7 attack on Israel
Fabrizio Carboni, the International Committee of the Red Cross’s regional director for the Near and Middle East, confirmed the release of the hostages had begun.
He said: “The deep pain that family members separated from their loved ones feel is indescribable.
“We are relieved that some will be reunited after long agony.”
As well as the 13 Israeli women and children, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said in a social media post that the 12 Thai workers had been released from captivity in Gaza.
In total around 240 people were taken by Hamas on October 7
The 50 people being released will still leave around 190 peole being held by Hamas.
In exchange, Israel was due to release the first 39 Palestinians from its jails, among them 24 women and 15 teenagers.
Earlier on Friday, combat between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters halted for the first time in seven weeks in a temporary truce ahead of the hostage release.
No big bombings, artillery strikes or rocket attacks were reported, although Hamas and Israel both accused each other of sporadic shootings and other violations.
Both said the war would resume on full throttle as soon as the truce was over.
More to follow…
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