Nov 27, 2023 - World

Fourth group of hostages released as Israel and Hamas agree to extend fighting pause

A man carries a propane gas cylinder on his back while walking through debris and destruction littering a street in the Jabalia camp for Palestinian refugees in Gaza City. Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

Hamas released a fourth group of hostages on Monday, just hours after Israel and Hamas agreed to extend the pause in the fighting in Gaza by two days.

Driving the news: The militant group released 11 Israelis — nine children and two women — under the deal with Israel. Thirty-three Palestinians — mostly children — were released from Israeli prisons later Monday.

  • The Israeli hostages released Monday were from the Nir Oz Kibbutz, — the Israeli Kibbutz that suffered the most devastating attack on Oct. 7. About one in every four residents of the Kibbutz was killed or kidnapped.

The big picture: The extension will allow for the release of at least 20 more Israeli hostages — 10 on each day of the pause — in addition to the 50 who were freed as part of the initial ceasefire agreement.

  • Israel will also allow more aid trucks into Gaza and release three Palestinian prisoners for every additional hostage released, as it did under the current deal.

What they're saying: President Biden welcomed the extension in a statement.

  • "We will not stop until all of the hostages held by Hamas terrorists are released," Biden said, adding that he has remained "deeply engaged over the last few days to ensure that this deal—brokered and sustained through extensive U.S. mediation and diplomacy—can continue to deliver results."
  • White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters earlier Monday that the Biden administration wants the pause to be extended even further in order to release more hostages

Catch up quick: The announcement that the pause would be extended came as the process to release the fourth group of hostages was about to get underway after a delay.

  • On Sunday night, Hamas sent the list of the 11 hostages that would be released as part of the fourth group but Israeli officials said it was "very problematic."
  • Israeli officials said it was a violation of the understandings between the parties because it included children without their mothers.
  • The Israelis demanded that the list be revised so that the two mothers are included, three Israeli officials said.
  • Israeli officials said Egyptian and Qatari mediators pressed Hamas for 12 hours to change the list until they agreed on Monday afternoon local time.

Zoom in: The hostages released so far include 4-year-old Israeli American Abigail Edan.

  • Biden said on Monday that he spoke "with Abigail's family following her release, and we are working closely with our Israeli partners to ensure she gets the care and support she needs as she begins to recover from this unspeakable trauma."
  • Hamas has also released more than a dozen Thai nationals, one Filipino, and one Russian Israeli as part of separate agreements.
  • More than 240 people, including several Americans, were abducted during the Oct. 7 terrorist attack. At least 1,200 people were killed in the attack, according to Israeli officials. Prior to the most recent releases, four hostages, including two Americans, were freed, one was rescued and two others were found dead.

Zoom in: The pause in fighting has offered a short reprieve to the more than 2.2 million Palestinians living in Gaza who had been under Israel's heavy bombardment since the war began. At least 14,850 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Ministry of Health in Hamas-run Gaza.

  • Under the pause deal, Israel has allowed hundreds of trucks carrying aid and more fuel into Gaza. That's allowed aid groups to increase their operations to address the dire humanitarian conditions in Gaza, but they've said four days is simply not enough to respond to the scale of the crisis.
  • Israel has vowed to continue the war after the pause in fighting "with full military power."
  • "We will not stop until we achieve our goals: the destruction of Hamas and bringing home the hostages from Gaza to Israel," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said last week.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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