Africa-Press – Mauritius. Hours after Hamas and Israel completed the fifth exchange of hostages and prisoners in the war, it appeared that the fragile truce would continue into Wednesday, allowing for more people to be released on both sides, as global leaders called for a longer pause in fighting.
The truce has been in doubt throughout since it began on Friday, with negotiations often finishing late into the day. And on Tuesday, each side accused the other of violating the cease-fire but stopped short of pulling out of the agreement, which originally called for Hamas to release 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinians held by Israel.
Note: The number of hostages held in captivity is an undercount; identities and ages could not be confirmed for roughly 20 captives. Some foreign nationals’ ages are not known; if they were known to be in Israel as guest workers, they are represented in the 18-to-54 age group.
The number of freed hostages does not include one person in the 18-to-54 age group who was rescued by Israeli forces. Sources: Israeli prime minister’s office, New York Times reporting, Haaretz
On Tuesday, the first day of a two-day extension of the cease-fire, Hamas released more hostages, raising the total to at least 85, according to a New York Times tally.
Israel has released 180 Palestinians from its prisons. Israel has said that Hamas and other militant groups killed about 1,200 people on Oct. 7 and kidnapped about 240 civilians, both adults and children, and soldiers.
Israel has responded with air and land assaults that have killed more than 13,000, possibly thousands more, according to the Gazan health authorities, who have struggled to in recent days to continue counting the dead.
For weeks, the United States and its allies have been worried that Iran, Hamas’s chief supporter, would push the regional militias it supports in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, to join the war.
The success of the cease-fire has temporarily cooled those concerns, and Group of Seven nations, the wealthiest in the world, have ratcheted pressure on Israel to protect civilians and increase aid, while demanding Hamas release more hostages.
Diplomats and intelligence officials were working to negotiate a longer pause. On Tuesday, the top intelligence officials from Egypt, Israel and the United States met with the prime minister of Qatar, the chief mediator between Hamas and Israel.
Two people with knowledge of the mediation efforts said the hope was that the current model would generate momentum that would prevent the resumption of hostilities and would create the conditions for longer-term talks.
It’s unclear whether Hamas has access to all of the hostages or is even aware where the remainder are, John Kirby, a White House spokesman, said on Tuesday.
Despite the pause in fighting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has said that destroying Hamas remains Israel’s ultimate goal in the war. Here are the statuses of the hostages taken into Gaza on Oct. 7.
Hamas released 10 Israeli hostages and two Thai nationals on Tuesday as the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas continued into a fifth day, raising the total number of captives released to 85.
Roughly 240 hostages were captured on Oct. 7, when Hamas led devastating raids into Israel and killed about 1,200 people, according to the Israeli authorities.
Eitan Yahalomi, 12, was beaten and forced to watch videos from the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, his aunt, Deborah Cohen, says. And Emily Hand, who turned 9 in captivity, now only speaks in whispers, her father says. She was convinced her time in Gaza had lasted a year.
Family members who were captured during the Hamas-led terrorist attacks on Oct. 7 who have now been freed are experiencing bursts of euphoria followed by emotional crashes as they emerge from weeks of paralyzing fear in captivity, according to Israelis who spoke to journalists at the Israeli Embassy in London on Tuesday.
“Everything is just so fragile,” said Limor Sella-Broyde, 40, whose cousins Judith Raanan, 59, and Natalie Raanan, 17, were freed on Oct. 20.
Under pressure from allies to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as it welcomes Israeli hostages home under the terms of a fragile cease-fire, Israel faces an increasingly difficult set of decisions about the future of its war against Hamas.
Israeli leaders have vowed to eliminate Hamas, the group that has controlled Gaza since 2007 and that led devastating attacks on Israel on Oct. 7. They have also promised to recover all of the roughly 240 people who were kidnapped by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups that day.
Israel confirmed on Tuesday the deaths of three Israeli soldiers who fell in combat during the Hamas-led terrorist attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, and a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces press office, Nir Dinar, said Hamas was holding some of their remains.
The Israeli army identified the three soldiers as Sgt. Shaked Dahan, 19, of Afula, in northern Israel; Sgt. Kiril Brodski, 19, of Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv; and Staff Sgt. Tomer Yaakov Ahimas, 20, from Lehavim, a town in southern Israel. The military ranks of all three soldiers had been upgraded after their deaths.