What to Know About the Release of Hostages and Prisoners Amid the Gaza Ceasefire

What to Know About the Release of Hostages and Prisoners Amid the Gaza Ceasefire

In the most significant development in the weekslong Israel-Hamas war, Hamas released 13 hostages to Israel, according to Israeli media reports, and 12 Thai hostages, in a separate deal, as confirmed by Thai government officials.

The Times of Israel reported around 4:30 p.m. local time that 13 Israeli hostages were transferred to the International Committee of the Red Cross and on their way to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, according to an Israeli official. Just before 5 p.m., hostages were transferred to the Egyptians, Israeli TV stations, as cited by Sky News, reported.

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Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin also said on X (formerly Twitter) just before 4 p.m. that 12 Thai hostages had been released by Hamas. The Egyptian government helped negotiate the deal.

Shortly after reports of the hostages being let go, the Red Cross announced that 24 hostages had been released, contrasting earlier reports of 25. “We are relieved to confirm the safe release of 24 hostages,” a social media post said. “We have facilitated this release by transporting them from Gaza to the Rafah border, marking the real-life impact of our role as a neutral intermediary between the parties.”

At present, it’s unclear where the discrepancy in the reported numbers of hostages released on Friday.

The Israel Prison Service told TIME in an email that thirty-nine Palestinian prisoners were also expected to be released. A list of names will be published later on Friday, the agency said.

Israel Defense Forces will bring the released hostages to Hatzerim Airbase in southern Israel for an initial reception and medical check-up before they go to a hospital to meet their families, the Times of Israel reported.

The IDF and Israel Foreign Ministry said earlier on Friday that they were ready to receive hostages with medical care and supplies, sharing pictures and a video on social media of toys, toiletries, blankets and clothes.

Under the deal brokered by Qatar and Egypt, Hamas and Israel agreed to exchange 50 hostages for 150 prisoners, stop fighting for four days and allow more aid to enter the besieged Gaza Strip. It was not immediately clear Friday if, or when, the total numbers agreed upon would be released.

Even more on both sides could be freed. According to the Jerusalem Post, an additional three Palestinians from a list of 300 published by the Israeli government will be released for every additional hostage Hamas releases. The release of every ten more will result in another day of respite from the fighting, the Israeli government said.

Hamas took an estimated 240 people hostage in its Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The militant group released four before Friday—an American mother and daughter on Oct. 20 and two Israeli women on Oct. 23, both for “humanitarian reasons,” according to the militant group.

The 150 Palestinian prisoners are a fraction of the estimated number being held by Israel. Israeli nonprofit organization HaMoked reported that the Israel Prison Service was holding 6,704 Palestinian prisoners on security grounds as of November, a jump from 5,192 in October, based on government data. That includes a record-high number held in administrative detention, without a trial or charges, the group said.

More than 40% of the Palestinian prisoners on Israel’s list to potentially be released were under the age of 18. Their alleged offenses ranged from throwing stones to attempted murder.

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