Thirteen Israeli hostages were released on Friday, 24 November by Hamas in exchange for 39 Palestinian prisoners. An additional 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino were released as well following Egyptian mediation.
The first exchange reportedly included the swapping of 39 Palestinian prisoners (24 women and 15 children) for 13 Israeli captives. The 13 Israeli women and children were handed over to the Red Cross earlier this afternoon, before making their way to the Rafah crossing along with the 10 Thai nationals and the one Filipino. All 24 people held by Hamas arrived in Tel Aviv shortly afterwards.
Thailand’s Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, had announced earlier in the day on social media that 12 Thai hostages had been released as well. It is unclear whether the Prime Minister was mistaken given only 10 were ultimately released.
In his post, he stated, “It has been confirmed by the security department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that there are 12 Thai hostages already released. Embassy officials are on their way to pick them up in another hour. They should know their names and details. Please stay tuned.”
He further mentioned that embassy officials are “on their way” to pick them up within the next hour. “They should know their names and details. Please stay tuned,” he urged.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand has been notified by the Royal Thai Embassy, Tel Aviv, that 12 Thai nationals who were held hostage have been released and have entered Israel via the Rafah Border Crossing. They are being transported to the processing point at Hatzerim Air Force Base,” a statement released from the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry read.
This announcement followed the Egyptian government’s media statement, indicating that it had facilitated a deal for the release of Thai hostages.
A four-day truce commenced on 24 November. Fighting ceased at 7 am local time (5 am GMT), and Hamas is set to release 50 of the approximately 240 hostages it has been holding, announcing that they had secured the release of about 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in return.
The truce offers some relief to the beleaguered 2.3 million Gazans who have suffered under constant Israeli bombardment since the Hamas attack on 7 October.
Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader based in Qatar, has stated that he is committed to the truce and the ‘hostage swap’ deal as long as Israel also remains committed.
“The war is not over yet,” cautioned Avichay Adraee, an Israeli military spokesman, who conveyed this message in Arabic to Palestinian civilians in Gaza through social media.