Hamas released 13 Israeli and four foreign citizens after a seven-hour delay. The hostages were handed to the Red Cross at the Egyptian crossing into Gaza at Rafah and were then transferred to Israel. The captives, seized from Kibbutz Be’eri during an October attack, are on their way to medical centers in Israel to meet their family members.
Qatari, Egyptian, and Israeli officials worked to save the deal, and immense pressure from behind the scenes on Hamas came from Qatar. The Qatari Foreign Ministry confirmed that 39 Palestinians would be released in exchange for the release of 13 hostages, along with 7 foreign nationals. Prime Minister Netanyahu held a situation assessment with top security officials to ensure the deal’s second phase proceeded as expected.
The first phase of the deal, executed on Friday, saw 13 Israeli captives and 39 Palestinian prisoners freed, and hostilities ceased by 10 a.m. It allowed the deal to be extended for another five days, during which 10 hostages would be freed every 24 hours.
The Israeli hostages have been taken to medical centers in Israel and reunited with their families, giving hope to the families of the more than 239 hostages originally taken by Hamas. The hostage deal provides the first significant pause in the war since the October 7 attack.