As part of a temporary ceasefire agreement, 13 Israeli hostages that were held by Hamas since its surprise attack on Oct. 7 were released Friday morning.
The 13 Israelis were all women and children and had been held for almost seven weeks. The hostages were moved out of the Gaza Strip and over to members of the Red Cross at the border crossing with Egypt.
Majed al-Ansari, a spokesperson for the Qatar Ministry, also confirmed that one Filipino and 10 Thai nationals were also released Friday morning.
In addition, Israel also freed 39 Palestinian teenagers and women from prisons in which they were being held, the BBC reported.
39 Palestinian women and teenagers released from Israeli prisons, after Hamas frees group of hostages from Gaza https://t.co/BXspr9sX9I
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) November 24, 2023
The New York Post reported that six of the Israelis who were freed were elderly. One of those released was a woman who was pictured in a now-infamous photo where she was shown being kidnapped on a golf cart.
Most of those who were released Friday morning came from Kubbutz Nir Oz.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that all of the hostages freed Friday morning have been brought back to Israel already.
In a statement released Friday morning, the IDF said the hostages underwent a medical assessment once they were inside Israel’s territory. IDF soldiers will also accompany the freed hostages as they travel to a hospital, at which time they’ll reunite with members of their families.
The ceasefire agreement began at 7 a.m. local time on Friday — midnight EST. The temporary agreement is set to last four days, during which time Hamas is expected to release 50 people from captivity.
In addition to pausing military attacks during the ceasefire, Israel has agreed to release 150 Palestinians who are being held in prison. The country has also agreed that it would extend what’s being called a “humanitarian pause” one additional day for every 10 additional hostages that Hamas releases.
While there weren’t any Americans among the initial group of hostages released Friday, a Biden administration official said that they “remain hopeful that there will be Americans among the 50 released.”
While the ceasefire does provide some relief to war-torn Gaza, it isn’t expected to last long. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already vowed that the IDF will resume its efforts to stamp out Hamas once the ceasefire agreement ends.