Second group of hostages back in Israel after release from Gaza

The group of 13 Israelis and four foreign nationals were released after delays from Hamas


After 49 days in captivity, a second group of 13 hostages has been released and is on their way home to Israel, according to the IDF.

The group, which contains six of the more than 30 children still being held by Hamas, also contains dual Irish-Israeli national Emily Hand.

The full list of released hostages is: 

  • Shoshan Haran, 67
  • Adi Shoham, 38, and children Yahel, 3, and Naveh, 8
  • Shiri Weiss, 53 and her daughter, Noga Weiss, 18
  • Maya Regev, 21
  • Hila Rotem, 12
  • Emily Hand, 9
  • Noam Or, 17 and Alma Or, 13
  • Noam Avigdori, 12, and her mother Sharon Avigdori, 52

Irish foreign minister Michael Martin said: “After weeks of trauma, this is a precious and deeply moving moment for the Hand family,” 

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar added: “This is a day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family. An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned, and we breathe a massive sigh of relief. Our prayers have been answered.”

In the aftermath of October 7, Emily was initially believed to have been killed by Hamas in kibbutz Be’eri before the IDF discovered she was taken by terrorists to Gaza. 

Her father Thomas, who earlier this week spoke of his anguish in a press conference at the Israeli embassy in London told the Daily Mirror: “We have been waiting for far too long for this moment. Every day has been a long and painful living nightmare.…my Emily is coming home at last, broken but in one piece.”

Several of the hostages have family members still in Gaza, including Maya Regev, whose 21-year-old brother Itai is still believed to be held by the terror group.

Hila Rotem’s mother, Raya remains in Gaza and Israeli sources have told the Times of Israel that the separation of the pair may have contributed to the delay in the hostages’ release.

Red Cross representatives are bringing the 13 Israelis from Gaza to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula through the Rafah border crossing.

The hostages are set to be met by Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) agents in Egypt and then taken by IDF soldiers in an operation dubbed “Heaven’s Door” into southern Israel via the Kerem Shalom crossing.

In a separate deal, Qatar announced on Saturday that at least four foreign nationals were also released from captivity. A day earlier, Egypt had successfully negotiated the release of 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino who were abducted during Hamas’s Oct. 7 onslaught.

Meanwhile, the Israel Prison Service said on Saturday it would release 39 Palestinian security prisoners in accordance with the deal. The prisoners, believed to be imprisoned on terror charges were slated to be moved to Ofer Prison for medical checks by the International Red Cross, ahead of their release to Jerusalem and the West Bank.

As part of the ceasefire agreement approved by the Israeli Cabinet on Wednesday, Hamas will release 12 to 13 hostages each day of the four-day truce. The release of every additional 10 hostages will result in one additional day in the pause in combat.
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.
Many of the Palestinian terrorists are affiliated with Hamas, PIJ and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

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.

Over the past two days, some 200 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have entered Gaza from Sinai, with more than 50 of them designated for the northern part of the Strip.

Earlier today, US president Joe Biden praised the progress of the hostage release saying:“It’s only a start, but so far, it’s gone well,”

“This is the beginning of a long journey of healing for them.”

Biden added that Washington won’t stop until all the hostages are released. Teddy bears waiting for some of the youngest hostages “are a stark reminder of the trauma these children have been through at such a very young age,” he said.

Biden said that he and his staff worked hard to help negotiate the hostage deal, and he thanked Egyptian and Qatari leaders, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I’ve consistently pressed for a pause in the fighting for two reasons: to accelerate and expand the humanitarian assistance going into Gaza, and two, to facilitate the release of hostages,” Biden said.

“Hamas doesn’t give a damn about them,” he said of “innocent Palestinians” who need humanitarian aid.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive