The sixth and final group of hostages — ten Israeli, four Thai — entered Israeli territory early Thursday morning as a truce expired between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas.
Earlier, on Wednesday evening, Hamas released two Israeli women who also hold Russian citizenship. They are Yelena Trupanov, 50, and Irene Tati, 73.
They were forced to march with Hamas terrorists past a large group of jeering Palestinians in Gaza, with the Red Cross van waiting for them and participating in the ritual of humiliation:
Every day when the little Israeli kids and elderly women hostages are released from the hell of Hamas a mob of Gaza a gather around, not to wish them farewell— but to wish them death. It’s a torture to watch.
— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) November 29, 2023
According to the Times of Israel, “The 10 Israelis released this evening are Raz Ben Ami, Yarden Roman, Liat Atzili, Moran Stela Yanai, Liam Or, Itay Regev, Ofir Engel, Amit Shani, Gali Tarshansky and Raaya Rotem.”
Most are women and children, including several male teenagers.
The stories, as ever, are heartbreaking: one of the hostages, Gali Tarshansky, 13, was kidnapped after Hamas murdered her brother, Lior. One woman, Yarden Roman-Gat, escaped Hamas custody and handed her baby to her husband, who managed to evade the terrorists; she drew gunfire toward herself to allow them to hide, and was recaptured.
Hamas delayed the final release by several hours, evidently in an effort to gain leverage over Israel and to pressure the Israeli government to accept a four-day extension of the truce. The ten hostages were only handed over to the Red Cross about an hour before midnight.
The Israeli public also endured the agonizing uncertainty of knowing whether the Bibas family — a mother, a child, and a baby named Kfir, all with now-iconic red hair — were still alive. The IDF said Hamas had transferred them to the custody of another terror group; Hamas said Wednesday that they were dead and that they had been killed by an Israeli airstrike. Israel said that it is investigating the claims, and said that it will hold Hamas responsible for whatever happens to the family.
Hamas captured roughly 240 hostages during the October 7 terror attack, during which it also murdered about 1200 people. A total of 63 Israelis were released during the six-day pause, in addition to four hostages released before the pause. Hamas also released 23 Thai hostages and one Filipino hostage. According to the Israel Defense Forces, there are still 159 hostages in Gaza.
Israel released 210 Palestinian terror convicts, all women and children, in return for the released hostages, a three-to-one ratio.
As the truce ended, it was unclear whether Israel would go back to war. Israel said that it killed three Hamas terrorists in Gaza who had attacked Israeli soldiers earlier in the week, violating the truce. Israel also killed two Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank.
The United States and Qatar are trying to arrange for an extension of the truce. The Israeli government has vowed to take the fight to Hamas again once the truce ends, and it appears to have the strong support of the Israeli public in resuming the war.
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.