Photo Courtesy: Dan Poraz X page video grab
Twenty-four hostages, including 13 Israeli nationals, have been released as a part of the temporary truce reached between Israel and Hamas, media reports said.
Confirming the release, Israel's Foreign Ministry posted on X: "13 of our loved ones are back home in Israel and will be reunited with their families."
For the first time in seven weeks, 13 Israelis will spend Shabbat with their families.— Israel Foreign Ministry (@IsraelMFA) November 25, 2023
More than 200 Israeli families are still waiting for their loved ones to come home.
We will not stop working until every hostage is home. pic.twitter.com/1p3kf8uLgk
"We stand with all of the hostages and their families and will do everything we can to bring all of the hostages home," the Ministry said.
The hostages were met by members of the Shin Bet security service and then ferried by the Israel Defense Forces in an operation dubbed “Heaven’s Door” via the Kerem Shalom crossing into Israel, where they were taken to the Hatzerim Airbase near Beersheba for an initial reception, and to undergo a short physical and mental checkup, reported The Times of Israel.
They were then taken to Schneider’s Children’s Medical Center and the Wolfson Medical Center in central Israel, and other medical centers, by helicopter and ambulance, to be reunited with their relatives, the news portal reported.
Most of the Israeli hostages appeared to be in good physical health upon return to Israel, the hospital receiving them was quoted as saying by the news portal.
The Israeli authorities freed 39 Palestinian women and teenagers from prison.
During the four-day pauce of fighting, 50 hostages were freed.
Meanwhile, the United Nations said it was able to scale up delivery of humanitarian assistance into and across Gaza during the humanitarian pause that went into effect on Friday following an agreement reached this week between Israel and Hamas.
Gaza has a population of over two million, with the UN agency that assists Palestine refugee, UNRWA, hosting more than a million displaced people in 156 of its installations across the enclave.
The UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, said on Friday that 200 trucks were dispatched from Nitzana, a town in Israel, to the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
From there, 137 trucks of goods were offloaded by the UNRWA reception point in Gaza, making it the biggest humanitarian convoy received since the start of hostilities on 7 October.
Additionally, 129,000 litres of fuel and four trucks of gas also crossed into Gaza, and 21 critical patients were evacuated in a large-scale medical operation from the north of the enclave.
“Hundreds of thousands of people were assisted with food, water, medical supplies and other essential humanitarian items,” OCHA said.
The UN welcomed the release of 24 hostages held in Gaza since 7 October and renewed its call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.
Separately, UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland issued a statement welcoming the start of the implementation of the agreement, while expressing hope for an extended humanitarian ceasefire.
He said the development saw the release of 13 Israeli hostages abducted by Hamas and others, 39 Palestinians from Israeli prisons, and several foreign workers held in Gaza.
Wennesland – officially the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process - looked forward to additional releases that are expected over the coming days.
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