Hamas frees 12 hostages, including four Argentine-Israeli women

Israel released 30 Palestinian prisoners in the fifth day of a truce in the current Gaza war

Hamas freed 12 more hostages, including four Argentine-Israeli women, and Israel released 30 Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday, the fifth day of a truce in the current Gaza war.

The freed Argentine-Israelis are Ofelia Roitman, Clara Marman, Gabriela Leimberg and Mia Leimberg, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires said. On Monday, Hamas released six Argentine nationals, who were the first of at least 20 Argentines being held in the Gaza Strip to leave.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the 12 hostages had been transferred from Gaza, and Israel’s military confirmed that the 10 Israeli citizens and two foreign nationals were with its special forces on Israeli territory.

The hostages were among some 240 people seized by the gunmen belonging to the Palestinian Islamist group governing the Gaza Strip during an incursion into southern Israel on October 7. Israel says 1,200 people were killed. Israel’s bombardment of Hamas-ruled Gaza in retaliation has killed more than 15,000 Gazans, health authorities there said.

Israel said it freed 30 Palestinian detainees from Ofer and a detention center in Jerusalem. Earlier it said there would be 15 women and 15 teenagers, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, a non-governmental organization.

A spokesman for the foreign ministry of Qatar, which is mediating in the conflict, said the freed Israeli hostages included nine women and one minor.

The truce has brought Gaza its first respite after seven weeks of fighting and bombardment which has reduced much of the Gaza Strip to rubble. It had been due to end on Tuesday but both sides agreed to extend the pause to allow for the release of more hostages held by Hamas and of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Last week, Hamas and Israel reached a four-day ceasefire which included hostage-prisoner swaps. Israel has said the truce could be prolonged further, provided Hamas continues to free at least 10 Israeli hostages per day. But with fewer women and children still in captivity, keeping the guns quiet beyond Wednesday may require negotiating to free at least some Israeli men for the first time.

The total number of hostages released by Hamas since the start of the truce last Friday now stands at 81, including 60 Israelis — all women and children — and 21 foreign nationals, many of them Thai farm workers. Israel had freed 150 prisoners before Tuesday’s releases.

— Reuters/Télam/Herald


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