Israel and Hamas exchange third batch of hostages amid truce

14 Israelis, 9 of them children, freed by Hamas on 3rd day of hostages-for-truce deal
14 Israelis, 9 of them children, freed by Hamas on 3rd day of hostages-for-truce deal

A 4-year-old American-Israeli girl was among the 17 hostages freed by Hamas on Sunday, as part of a four-day truce with Israel that could be extended beyond Monday.

The Israeli military said that 13 of the released hostages were Israeli citizens, three were from Thailand and one had dual Russian-Israeli nationality.

The girl, Abigail Edan, was the first American hostage to be rescued since the truce began on Thursday. US President Joe Biden congratulated her release in a speech on Sunday and later called her family, the White House said.

Abigail is currently undergoing medical care at a hospital near Tel Aviv, along with the other 16 freed hostages, according to the Hostage and Missing Families’ Forum and the Israeli Ministry of Health.

The names and ages of the freed hostages were also made public by the authorities. They included two mothers and their children, and two siblings.

Four-year-old US hostage Abigail Edan was released by Hamas group
Four-year-old US hostage Abigail Edan was released by Hamas group. (File)

Here are some other important developments:

Israel frees Palestinian minors: The Israel Prison Service said that it released 39 Palestinian boys aged 14 to 18 on Sunday, as part of the deal with Hamas. Two of them were 15 years old and one was 14, the youngest of the group. Twenty-three of them had been held under administrative detention, a controversial practice that allows indefinite detention without trial or charges.

Truce extension possible: Hamas said that it was willing to prolong the truce with Israel if more Palestinian prisoners were freed, according to a statement issued after the latest hostage exchange. Israel’s security cabinet discussed the proposal on Sunday evening, a source told ANI, and maintained its position that Hamas had to release 10 more hostages for each extra day of ceasefire.

International support for truce: US President Biden said that his aim was to extend the pause in hostilities to secure the safe release of more hostages and to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, in a press conference on Sunday. Qatar, which played a key role in brokering the initial agreement, also expressed its hope to extend the truce.

Aid trucks enter Gaza: The Egyptian government said that it allowed at least 120 aid trucks to cross into Gaza through the Rafah border on Sunday. The delivery of aid to Gaza has been a crucial factor in maintaining the truce and the exchanges between Israel and Hamas.

Hostages discharged from hospital: The Schneider Children’s Medical Hospital in Israel said that it discharged some of the hostages from the first exchange on Sunday. They were members of two Israeli families who had been held by Hamas since May.
Palestinians killed in West Bank: The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that eight Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank in the span of 24 hours, in a statement on Sunday. ANI has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces for comment on the killings.