Hostage exchange commences between Israel and Palestine with Hamas releasing 25 people
Hamas has released 13 Israeli and 12 Thai hostages. Thai prime minister Srettha Thavisin confirmed the release of the Thai nationals on social media, and an Israeli official reported the liberation of the Israeli hostages to Times of Israel.
The 25 hostages, all women and children, were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday afternoon. They are in ambulances heading to the Rafah border crossing.
This is the first part of the hostage and prisoner exchange agreement and temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. In exchange for the release of the hostages, Israel will release 39 Palestinian prisoners, all of whom are also women and children.
Israel and the extremist Palestinian organisation Hamas had reached an agreement on a "humanitarian pause" on Tuesday night after negotiations led by Qatar, Egypt and the US. The standstill in violence comes on the 49th day of the bloody conflict between the two sides. It was initially set to begin on Thursday.
In accordance with the deal, 50 hostages must be released by Hamas during the truce in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners.
© PHOTO FADEL SENNA / AFP