First Israeli Hostages Return; 10 Thai, 1 Filipino Freed; 39 Palestinian Convicts Released

Israel Defense Forces

Thirteen Israeli women and children taken hostage by Hamas on October 7 are crossing back into Israel after a transition through Egypt via the Red Cross on Friday evening local time. 12 Thai hostages and one Filipino hostage have also been freed.

In return, Israel has released 39 Palestinian terror convicts, all women or teenagers. It has also allowed additional fuel trucks and other supplies into Gaza, after a four-day pause in fighting took effect earlier on Friday, under the terms of the agreement.

Over 200 hostages remain in custody in Gaza.

Israeli initially withheld the names of the hostages to be released, though names began to trickle out during the transfer.

One hostage released, Hanna Katzir, had been erroneously reported by Palestinian Islamic Jihad to have died in captivity. She was reportedly among the 13 Israeli hostages seen transferring from Gaza to Israel via the Red Cross through Egypt.

Update: The Times of Israel reported the names and ages of the female and child hostages released and returned to Israel:

  • Hanna Katzir, 77.
  • Margalit Mozes, 77.
  • Yafa Ader, 85.
  • Hannah Perry, 79.
  • Adina Moshe, 72.
  • Danielle Aloni, 44; and Emilia Aloni, 6.
  • Ruthi Munder, 78; Keren Munder, 54; and Ohad Munder, 9.
  • Aviv Asher, 2; Raz Asher, 4; and Doron Katz-Asher, 34.

Israel’s Army Radio narrated the emotional moment when the hostages — including children — boarded a white bus at the Rafah Crossing in Egypt to be transferred across the boundary into Israel, escorted by Israeli soldiers and health professionals.

At least 50 Israeli hostages are set to be released over the four-day pause, and a total of 150 Palestinian convicts. Hamas will be allowed to extend the pause in fighting as long as it hands over an additional 10 hostages per day, up to ten days total. Israel would then release an additional 150 Palestinian prisoners.

There are a number of potential complications in the deal. Israel reportedly agreed to stop surveillance of Gaza during the four-day pause, which will allow Hamas to move hostages without their locations being traced — and would also allow Hamas to rearm in anticipation of more fighting. Meanwhile, some Palestinian civilians who moved south during the fighting are attempting to return to the northern Gaza Strip, which is still a war zone. Hezbollah, in Lebanon, has also stopped firing at Israel, though it is not a party to the agreement with Hamas on the hostages.

The first stop for the hostages will be a military base in Israel, where they will receive medical examinations and attentions. The families of the hostages are waiting there, as are stuffed animals and toys for the children who are going to be released.

Soldiers escorting the hostages have been instructed not to answer questions directly about the children’s parents, because many of them were killed by Hamas. Few of the hostages are presumed to know the full extent of what happened in the last several weeks.

Israel has vowed to continue the fighting to destroy Hamas, which many Israelis believe can no longer be allowed to exist after the October 7 terror attack. Global pressure, however, is building on Israel to extend the pause into a permanent ceasefire.

Update: Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement officially welcoming the return of the hostages, noting that it remains one of the main goals of the war, and said that the Israeli government would continue to pursue all the hostages’ release.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Correction: an earlier version of this post reported that there were 12 Thais freed.


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