JERUSALEM — The first group of captives are released after parties agree to a ceasefire; both Israelis and Palestinians hostages are expected to reunite with their families after weeks of conflict.
The first Israeli captives were freed just hours after the truce was reached. The truce is expected to last for four days.
So far approximately 24 captives have been returned to Israel, among them are 13 Israelis, ten Thais, and 1 Filipino. On the other side, 39 Palestinian prisoners were released to the West Bank.
The Red Cross, which ferried the prisoners on Friday from Gaza to the Rafah border with Egypt, noted that 24 captives had been released on Friday.
“There were rare scenes of celebration as crowds gathered to watch a helicopter carrying eight freed Israeli hostages arrive at a children’s hospital in Petah Tikva, after they spent almost seven weeks being held captive by Hamas in Gaza,” said Red Cross officials.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) indicated that 13 Israeli captives had taken back to Israel on Friday, where they have undergone prior medical examinations.
Elsewhere, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, which aided to broker the peace deal, confirmed that the Palestinian prisoners freed as part of the agreement were on the en route to the West Bank.
While commenting on the matter of the release of hostages, president Biden noted that the struggle shall not end until all captives are freed.
“We also will not stop until we get these hostages brought home and an answer to their whereabouts,” he said.
Constituting the Israelis released are 5-year-old Emilia Aloni as well as Adina Moshe, who was observed being taken away on a motorbike after being held from her kibbutz during the October 7 Hamas terror attacks.
“They’re now en route to hospitals where they will be reunited with their families – or rather, should I say, what’s left of their families,” said Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy. “Many of them, of course, their families were murdered on October 7,” added Levy.
Levy indicated that the initial release still left 215 captives inside Gaza. “None of us here are free until all of them are free. We are committed to that pledge: There will be no one left behind,” he said.
Biden reaffirmed the desire for a two-state solution in order to ensure that a lasting peace to the region is attained.
“As we look to the future, we have to end this cycle of violence in the Middle East. We need to renew our resolve to pursue this two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can one day live side by side in a two states solution with equal measure of freedom and dignity, two states for two people and it’s more important now than ever. Hamas unleashed this terrorist attack because they fear nothing more than Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace,” he said.