Hamas releases 12 more captives as truce with Israel holds for fifth day

Israel releases 30 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 10 Israeli hostages, according to mediator Qatar.

An Israeli soldier stands near photos of people killed or taken captive in an attack by Hamas
Israeli soldiers look at photos of people killed and taken captive by Hamas fighters during an attack on October 7 on southern Israel near Kibbutz Re'im on November 28 [Ohad Zwigenberg/AP Photo]

Hamas has released 12 more hostages, the Israeli military and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have said, as a shaky truce continues to hold in Gaza.

The ICRC said that it successfully facilitated the release and transfer of 12 hostages out of Gaza via the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Tuesday, the fifth day of an extended six-day truce between Israel and the Palestinian armed group in Gaza.

The Israeli army said 10 Israelis and two Thai nationals had arrived in Israel.

In exchange for the release of the 10 Israelis, 30 Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli prisons later, according to Qatar, a key mediator in the Israel-Hamas deal.

The agreement provides for the possibility of extending the truce in return for the release of a further 10 captives each day.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Club said 15 women and 15 minors would be released.

Among them was 14-year-old Ahmad Salayme.

“The first day of the war there were a number of beatings, female inmates were beaten,” Salayme said in an interview with Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom.

“They told me no celebrations, and on the day of my release I’m not allowed to leave my house, raise any signs or banners, use a megaphone,” he added. “And if I break any of these rules I will be taken back.”

“We are very happy but our happiness is incomplete because we mourn those who are lost, those who are wounded and those who are missing,” he said, referring to the Palestinians in Gaza.

Before his arrival, the boy’s relatives, his friends and journalists had been huddling in the living room in Ras al-Amoud, a neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, in silence as Israeli security forces were outside.

Israeli authorities have warned the families of Palestinian women and children being released as part of the Gaza truce against celebrating their return home.

Qatar said that of the 10 Israelis released, there were nine women and one minor. It said one of those freed has Austrian citizenship, two have Argentinian citizenship, and one has Filipino citizenship.

About 240 captives were seized as Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel on October 7, killing approximately 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials. Dozens of hostages have since been released, the vast majority through the Israel-Hamas deal that is set to expire early on Thursday.

In addition to the exchanges, the deal includes a cessation of hostilities in Gaza and an increase in humanitarian aid to the territory which Israel had bombarded and besieged for more than seven weeks.

More than 15,000 people have been killed in the Israeli air and ground assault, including more than 6,000 children, according to Palestinian officials. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced amid dire humanitarian conditions.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies