After delays, Hamas says hostage release to go ahead

Security sources said that the IDF's ground offensive would recommence if the Israeli captives were not freed by midnight



Hamas delayed the release of 13 additional hostages from the Gaza Strip on Saturday after accusing Israel of violating the terms of a four-day ceasefire deal.

As 50,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to anxiously wait for news about the second group set to be released,  Hamas said it was delaying the release “until the occupation adheres to the terms of the agreement related to the entry of aid trucks into the northern Gaza Strip.”

The release of 13 Israelis and seven foreign nationals, which was scheduled for 4pm Israeli time, was delayed by several hours, after Hamas claimed Israel did not stick to their side of the ceasefire agreement, an accusation which was vigourously denied by Israel. 

Senior Israeli officials attributed the hold-up to a "technical matter," but security sources later told Israeli media that the IDF's ground offensive in Gaza would recommence if the captives were not freed by midnight tonight.

Qatar’s foreign minister said in a statement hours after the exchange was set to begin that:“Obstacles to release of prisoners were overcome through Qatari-Egyptian contacts with both sides,”

A four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect at 7am on Friday after tense negotiations mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the US.

As part of the deal approved by the Israeli Cabinet on Wednesday, Hamas agreed to release 12 to 13 hostages each day of the truce. The release of every additional 10 hostages will result in one additional day in the pause in combat.

The IDF will refrain from using surveillance drones in Gaza for six hours each day of the ceasefire. Israel will also allow fuel to enter the Strip during that time and dramatically increase the volume of goods permitted into the enclave.

Israel also agreed to commute the sentences of at least 150 female and teenage Palestinian security prisoners, or three terrorists for every hostage that is released.

The first group of 13 Israeli women and children was released on Friday as part of the ceasefire deal, 49 days after Hamas terrorists kidnapped them and some 230 others during the Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in the northwestern Negev.

The Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem identified the hostages released on Friday as Doron Katz-Asher, 34, Aviv Asher, 2, and Raz Asher, 4; Danielle Aloni, 45, and Amelia Aloni, 5; Ruth Munder, 78, Keren Munder, 54, and Ohad Munder, 9; Adina Moshe, 72; Channa Katzir, 76; Margalit Mozes, 77; Chana Perry, 79; and Yafa Adar, 85.

In a separate deal, Egypt announced Friday that it had successfully negotiated the release of 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino who were abducted during Hamas’s Oct. 7 onslaught.

Earlier today, the Israeli government co-ordinated 200 trucks of aid into Gaza, the most since the outbreak of war on October 7. According to the Israeli agency that liaises with the Palestinian territories, “The humanitarian aid trucks contained food, water, shelter equipment and medical supplies only.” The UN has confirmed over 100 of these trucks have been unloaded by its staff in Gaza. 

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