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Red Cross Bus Delivers Released Palestinian Prisoners to West Bank

by Ethan Kim
7 comments
Israel-Hamas Ceasefire

Early Sunday, a Red Cross bus arrived in the West Bank town of Al Bireh, bringing nearly 35 Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel. This transfer followed the release of 13 Israelis and four foreigners by Hamas, marking the second phase of exchanges under a cease-fire agreement.

The bus’s arrival was met with enthusiasm by hundreds, with chants of “God is great” echoing as some youths climbed atop the vehicle. The crowd, many waving Hamas flags, vocally supported the organization.

Israel’s military confirmed the repatriation of the hostages released by Hamas, including four Thai nationals, who were set to reunite with their families.

Israel-Hamas Conflict

  • Joy in Palestinian communities as minors and women are released in a wartime prisoner exchange.
  • Ten Thai hostages, including four unlisted as abducted, released by Hamas.
  • Unrelenting anguish for families of hostages not included in the current truce’s release from Gaza.

The video released by Hamas showed the hostages, though visibly distressed, in fair health, being escorted to Red Cross vehicles for departure from Gaza. Some hostages waved farewell to the militants as they left the besieged area.

Nurhan Awad, arriving at Qalandia refugee camp near Jerusalem, received a jubilant welcome from a large crowd. She was imprisoned at 17 in 2016 for an attempted stabbing of an Israeli soldier.

Shurouq Duwiyat, another released Palestinian woman, reached her Jerusalem home to joyous family embraces. She expressed solidarity with Gaza’s people from her residence.

In Jerusalem, Israeli forces removed journalists from the vicinity of Israa Jaabis’ residence. Jaabis had been detained since 2015 for multiple attacks on Israelis.

In Beitunia, West Bank, crowds anticipated more prisoner arrivals.

Among the hostages freed by Hamas were seven children and six women, as announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. Many of these hostages were from Kibbutz Be’eri, targeted in a Hamas attack on October 7. The children’s ages ranged from 3 to 16, and the women from 18 to 67.

A solidarity event was held in Tel Aviv, near the Museum of Art. Egyptian officials indicated Hamas’ intention to release 14 Israeli hostages in exchange for 42 Palestinian prisoners.

For Be’eri residents, the release was mixed with sorrow, as all had either lost family members in the October 7 attack or had loved ones still captive in Gaza. Among those released was 12-year-old Hila Rotem, whose mother remained in captivity.

Emily Hand, a young girl long believed dead by her father, was discovered to be among the hostages.

Emily Hand, aged 9, from Kibbutz Be’eri, was released on November 25, 2023, under the ceasefire deal, following a delay and claims of truce terms violation by Israel.

Kibbutz residents, staying at a Dead Sea hotel since the attack, gathered excitedly upon viewing images of their returning loved ones.

The delay in the hostages’ release led to tensions during the four-day cease-fire. Hamas accused Israel of not meeting aid delivery promises, particularly to northern Gaza, and not releasing enough veteran prisoners in the initial swap.

Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official, warned of risks to the deal’s success. However, Egypt, Qatar, and Hamas later announced that impediments had been resolved. Hamas listed six women and 33 teenage boys due for release by Israel.

Amidst the exchange’s uncertainties, there were scenes of joyful family reunions.

On the cease-fire’s first day, Hamas released 24 hostages, and Israel freed 39 Palestinians. Those released in Gaza included 13 Israelis, 10 Thais, and a Filipino.

The truce envisioned the release of at least 50 Israeli hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners, all women and minors, by Hamas and Israel, respectively.

U.S. President Joe Biden expressed hope for extending the truce, with Israel suggesting an extension for every additional 10 hostages freed.

Biden discussed truce challenges with Qatari leaders, focusing on hostage releases.

The cease-fire allowed 2.3 million Palestinians respite from Israeli attacks that caused extensive casualties and displacement. Rocket attacks from Gaza also ceased.

During the truce, aid deliveries increased, fuel and cooking gas were distributed, and medical evacuations took place, offering a brief respite to the embattled population.

In the Jabaliya refugee camp, Gaza City, Emad Abu Hajer resumed searching his demolished home, discovering more casualties, adding to the war’s heavy toll.

A solidarity demonstration in Tel Aviv featured a placard showing Gaza-held hostages.

In the West Bank, the war’s impact continued with multiple fatalities in Israeli raids in Jenin and near Ramallah.

Anticipation and joy marked the scene in Tel Aviv as people awaited further release news. Families urged the Israeli government to intensify efforts to bring home remaining hostages.

In Balata

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Israel-Hamas prisoner swap

What was the nature of the recent Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange?

The recent Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange involved the release of nearly 35 Palestinian prisoners by Israel and the release of 13 Israelis and four foreigners by Hamas. This event marked the second phase of exchanges under a cease-fire agreement.

Who welcomed the released Palestinian prisoners, and where did they arrive?

The released Palestinian prisoners were welcomed by hundreds of people in the West Bank town of Al Bireh. The crowd celebrated their arrival with chants and displayed support for Hamas.

What was the condition of the hostages released by Hamas?

The hostages released by Hamas, including four Thai nationals, appeared shaken but mostly in good physical condition. They were escorted to Red Cross vehicles for departure from Gaza.

How did the residents of Kibbutz Be’eri react to the release of Israeli hostages?

Residents of Kibbutz Be’eri experienced mixed emotions, as all released hostages had either lost family members in a recent Hamas attack or had loved ones still in captivity. They gathered at a hotel to witness the release of their loved ones.

What was the outcome of the truce between Israel and Hamas regarding hostage release?

During the four-day truce, Hamas was to release at least 50 Israeli hostages, and Israel was to free 150 Palestinian prisoners, all women and minors. This was part of a larger effort to de-escalate tensions and bring peace to the region.

How did the cease-fire impact the Palestinian population?

The cease-fire provided a temporary respite for the Palestinian population, enabling increased aid delivery, medical evacuations, and a pause in the bombardment and rocket attacks that had caused significant casualties and displacement.

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7 comments

Laura H November 26, 2023 - 8:00 am

Can’t believe this is happening, politics is always unpredictable, hats off to the negotiators.

Reply
Mike P November 26, 2023 - 8:14 am

this is good news but lets not forget the ongoing struggles of people in these areas. peace should be for all.

Reply
Josh D November 26, 2023 - 1:27 pm

It’s a start, but there’s a long way to go for real peace in the Middle East.

Reply
Emma G November 26, 2023 - 3:06 pm

Why aren’t we hearing more about this in the main news? such a significant event…

Reply
Samuel L November 26, 2023 - 6:34 pm

Wait, did Hamas really release all those hostages? I thought the situation was worse!

Reply
Jenny R November 26, 2023 - 8:25 pm

its heartwarming to see families reunited, but so sad for those still waiting…

Reply
Mark T November 27, 2023 - 1:59 am

wow, this is such a huge step for peace in the region, hope it lasts longer this time.

Reply

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