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25 April, 2024
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FT: Hamas releases fifth batch of hostages in ongoing ceasefire

Exchange of fire underscores challenges in Gaza


In a significant development on Tuesday, Hamas released a fifth consecutive group of hostages amid a temporary ceasefire.

As reported by Finacial Times, the pause in the fighting, though briefly disrupted by an exchange of fire between Israeli troops and militants in northern Gaza, has held.

According to the Israeli military, 12 hostages, including 10 Israelis and two foreign nationals, were transported from Gaza by the International Committee of the Red Cross and are now with Israeli troops. In return, Israel has agreed to release 30 Palestinians from its prisons.

This exchange followed an extension of the initial four-day ceasefire by 48 hours, agreed upon by both sides. CIA director Bill Burns and Mossad chief David Barnea were in Doha on Tuesday for talks with Qatar's Prime Minister and Egyptian officials. The focus was on building upon the ceasefire, extending the truce, and securing the release of more hostages.

Despite the optimism, the fragility of the truce was evident when Hamas militants and Israeli troops exchanged fire in northern Gaza on Tuesday afternoon, marking the first significant violation of the agreement.

Mediators are hopeful that Hamas will locate an additional 20 women and children in Gaza to further extend the agreement beyond Wednesday. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group, also claimed to have released hostages on Tuesday.

The talks in Doha centered on the next category of hostages to be released, with a focus on what a new agreement could entail. About 240 hostages were seized during the October 7 attack on southern Israel, including women, children, and Israeli soldiers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under pressure to continue the temporary truce, has vowed to crush Hamas following the October 7 attack, which claimed about 1,200 lives, according to Israeli officials.

The truce involves daily releases of groups of Israeli women and children held hostage in Gaza by Hamas, in exchange for the freeing of Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons. The families of remaining hostages continue to advocate for their release, emphasizing the humanitarian aspect of the ongoing crisis.

The ceasefire also includes the release of foreigners, increased aid deliveries through the Rafah border crossing, and addresses the mounting humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip, where 2.3 million people have faced severe supply shortages and displacement.

As international calls for a ceasefire persist, the situation remains complex, with ongoing efforts to balance humanitarian concerns and the security interests of both parties.

[With information sourced from Finacial Times]

Cyprus  |  hostages  |  Gaza  |  war

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