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Hamas releases third group of hostages as a part of truce deal, whereas Netanyahu visits Gaza

JERUSALEM (AP) — The delicate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was again on observe Sunday because the militants freed 17 extra hostages, together with 14 Israelis and the primary American, in a 3rd set of releases beneath a four-day truce that the U.S. mentioned it hoped could be prolonged.

Some hostages have been handed over on to Israel, whereas others left by Egypt. Israel’s military mentioned one was airlifted to a hospital. U.S. President Joe Biden mentioned the aged girl was “very sick and was in want of fast medical assist.” A whole lot of Israelis draped in flags cheered and sang as freed hostages, waving, arrived at an air drive base. They have been being flown to hospitals.

The hostages ranged in age from 4 to 84 and included Abigail Edan, a 4-year-old woman and twin citizen whose mother and father have been killed within the Hamas assault that began the battle on Oct. 7. “What she endured was unthinkable,” Biden mentioned of the primary American freed beneath the truce. He didn’t know her situation. He didn’t have updates on different American hostages and mentioned his purpose was to increase the cease-fire deal so long as potential.

In all, 9 kids ages 17 and youthful have been on the record, based on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s workplace. Individually, Hamas mentioned it launched a Russian hostage “in response to the efforts of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” The Russian-Israeli citizen was the primary male hostage to be freed.

Israel’s jail service later mentioned it had begun the method of releasing 39 Palestinian prisoners. A convoy of automobiles was seen leaving Ofer army jail within the occupied West Financial institution.

A fourth trade is predicted on Monday — the final day of the cease-fire throughout which a complete of fifty hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners are to be freed. All are ladies and minors.

Worldwide mediators led by the U.S., Egypt and Qatar are attempting to increase the cease-fire that started Friday.

Forward of the most recent launch, Netanyahu visited the Gaza Strip, the place he spoke with troops. “We’re making each effort to return our hostages, and on the finish of the day we’ll return each one,” he mentioned, including that “we’re persevering with till the top, till victory. Nothing will cease us.” It was not instantly clear the place he went inside Gaza.

A BREAK IN THE FIGHTING

The cease-fire settlement has introduced the primary important pause in seven weeks of battle, marked by the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence in a long time and huge destruction and displacement throughout the Gaza Strip.

Greater than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, roughly two thirds of them ladies and minors, based on the Well being Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. The battle has claimed the lives of greater than 1,200 Israelis, principally civilians killed by Hamas within the preliminary assault.

Hamas and different militant teams seized round 240 individuals throughout the incursion into southern Israel that ignited the battle. Fifty-eight have been launched, one was freed by Israeli forces and two have been discovered useless inside Gaza.

Households from the southern Israeli city of Kfar Aza embraced, cried, and applauded on the information that hostages from their city had arrived in Israel. Greater than 70 members of the kibbutz of round 700 individuals have been killed and 18 have been kidnapped.

Strain from hostages’ households has sharpened the dilemma going through Israel’s leaders, who search to eradicate Hamas as a army and governing energy whereas returning all of the captives.

Israel has mentioned the truce will be prolonged by an additional day for each further 10 hostages freed, however has vowed to shortly resume its offensive as soon as it ends. The U.S. mentioned it’s working with all sides on the likelihood that the deal will get prolonged to further hostages.

HAMAS COMMANDER KILLED

Hamas introduced the demise of Ahmed al-Ghandour, who was accountable for northern Gaza and a member of its prime army council. He’s the highest-ranking militant identified to have been killed within the combating. Israel’s army confirmed the demise.

Al-Ghandour, believed to have been round 56 years previous, had survived at the very least three Israeli makes an attempt on his life and was concerned in a cross-border assault in 2006 by which Palestinian militants captured an Israeli soldier, based on the Counter Extremism Undertaking, an advocacy group primarily based in Washington.

Hamas mentioned that he was killed together with three different senior militants, together with Ayman Siam, who Israel says was accountable for Hamas’ rocket-firing unit. The Israeli army talked about each males in a Nov. 16 assertion, saying it had focused an underground advanced the place Hamas leaders have been hiding.

The Israeli army claims to have killed hundreds of militants, with out offering proof, together with a number of mid-ranking commanders it has recognized by title.

AID AND RESPITE IN GAZA

The pause has given some respite to Gaza’s 2.3 million individuals, nonetheless reeling from relentless Israeli bombardment that has pushed three-quarters of the inhabitants from their houses and leveled residential areas. Rocket fireplace from Gaza militants into Israel additionally went silent.

Struggle-weary Palestinians in northern Gaza, the place the offensive has targeted, returned to the streets. Whole metropolis blocks in and round Gaza Metropolis have been gutted by airstrikes.

A whole lot of hundreds of individuals from the north have sought refuge within the south. Palestinians who’ve tried to return to the north to see if their houses are intact have been turned again by Israeli troops.

“They open fireplace on anybody approaching from the south,” mentioned Rami Hazarein, who fled from Gaza Metropolis final month.

The Israeli army has ordered Palestinians to not return to the north or method inside a kilometer (round a half-mile) of the border fence. The Palestinian Crimson Crescent rescue service mentioned Israeli forces opened fireplace Sunday on two farmers in central Gaza, killing one and wounding the opposite. An Israeli army spokesperson mentioned they weren’t conscious of the incident.

The United Nations mentioned the truce has made it potential to scale up the supply of meals, water, and medication to the most important quantity for the reason that begin of the battle, although it nonetheless hasn’t reached prewar ranges. It was capable of ship gasoline for the primary time for the reason that battle started, and to succeed in areas within the north for the primary time in a month.

The Palestinian Crimson Crescent Society mentioned 50 Egyptian assist vans crossed by checkpoints to succeed in Gaza Metropolis and northern areas Sunday.

HOSTAGES FOR PRISONERS

The freed hostages have principally stayed out of the general public eye. Hospitals mentioned their bodily situation has largely been good. Little is publicly identified concerning the circumstances of their captivity. Eyal Nouri, the nephew of Adina Moshe, 72, who was freed on Friday, mentioned his aunt “needed to alter to the daylight” as a result of she had been in darkness for weeks.

Many Palestinians view prisoners held by Israel, together with these implicated in assaults, as heroes resisting occupation.

The battle has been accompanied by a surge in violence within the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution. Palestinian well being authorities mentioned Sunday that 5 Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli army raid within the West Financial institution metropolis of Jenin that started the day earlier than. The toll within the West Financial institution is now 239 for the reason that battle started.

The Israeli military has performed frequent army raids and arrested lots of of Palestinians for the reason that begin of the battle, principally individuals it suspects of being Hamas members.

Considerations stay over a wider battle. Syrian state media reported that Israeli missile strikes put Damascus Worldwide Airport out of service. It mentioned different positions round Syria’s capital have been hit however made no point out of casualties. Israel has attacked airports in Damascus and Aleppo a number of instances for the reason that starting of the battle with Hamas. It doesn’t often acknowledge its airstrikes on Syria, however when it does, it says it’s focusing on Iranian-backed teams.

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Magdy reported from Cairo. Isabel DeBre in Jerusalem and Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv, Israel, contributed to this report.

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Full AP protection at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

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