Palestinian militant group Hamas on Saturday released a group of 17 hostages, including 13 Israelis and four Thai citizens, on the second day of a four-day ceasefire with Tel Aviv, the Associated Press reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the hostages had been released.
The ceasefire, which began on Friday morning, is aimed at facilitating the exchange of hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. On Friday, Hamas released 13 Israelis, 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino citizen, while Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners.
On Saturday, the second handover of hostages was delayed by several hours after Hamas accused Israel of violating the conditions of the agreement, AFP reported. The militant group reportedly claimed that Israel was interfering in the selection of prisoners to be freed and was stopping aid from reaching civilians in northern Gaza.
Hamas said it had “responded positively” to mediators from Egypt and Qatar after they conveyed an assurance from Israel that it would honour all the conditions of the accord. Israel denied that it violated the agreement.
Netanyahu’s office said on Sunday that it received another list of those due to be released in continuation of the process of exchanging captives from either side.
Hamas is believed to be holding over 200 hostages, taken when it led an incursion into southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and triggering the war. Since then, over 13,300 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in relentless air and ground strikes by Israeli forces, according to the health ministry in Gaza.
Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, resulting in a massive humanitarian crisis as residents have been cut off from vital resources. Residents of Gaza have also been dealing with shortages of food, water, and healthcare. The lack of fuel has caused a blackout, leaving homes and hospitals reliant on generators.
Israel has vowed to continue its war on Gaza after the ceasefire expires, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Wednesday to “complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the state of Israel from Gaza.”
Hamas has also called for an “escalation of the confrontation on all resistance fronts,” including the Israeli-occupied West Bank.