Israel-Hamas Truce Underway As Both Sides Release Hostages

As the truce between Israel and Hamas begins, the International Red Cross is facilitating the transfer of 24 hostages from Gaza back to their homes in Israel. The Red Cross’ efforts come after Hamas agreed to free the hostages.

The operation took place nine hours after the Middle East war came to a pause after a truce agreement between Hamas and Israel was reached, involving the release of hostages on both sides.

“The deep pain that family members separated from their loved ones feel is indescribable. We are relieved that some will be reunited after long agony,” the Near and Middle East regional director for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Fabrizio Carboni, said, as reported by Reuters.

Of the 24 hostages freed, 12 were Thai workers, according to Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavishin.

A source told Reuters that the release of the Thai hostages, all of which are men, was unrelated to the truce agreement between Israel and Hamas. The release came after talks were held between Hamas leaders and officials from Egypt and Qatar.

The Thai hostages are said to be Israel-employed farmworkers and were among the 240 hostages that Hamas brutally took away on Oct. 7, 2023 — the start of the Middle East war.

The anonymous source told Reuters that the number of Thai hostages released was either 11 or 12.

The Israel-Hamas truce agreement involves the release of 50 women and children currently detained by Hamas in Gaza in the coming days in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian women and children currently behind bars in Israel.

The Israeli government said that if Hamas expedited the release of the hostages and increased the operation to an additional 10 daily, it would be open toward extending the truce.

On Nov. 24, 2023, the first 13 hostages were released from Gaza in exchange for 24 Palestinian women and 15 teenagers.

The war in the Middle East came to a sudden halt for the first time in seven weeks as the truce agreement went into effect. Israel and Hamas have both said that the war would continue the moment the truce expires.