Hamas released another group of hostages on Monday, not long after officials announced an agreement between the Palestinian group and Israel to extend a short-term cease-fire in the Gaza Strip for another two days.
Israel's military and security services confirmed that the 11 hostages are now back in Israeli territory. The Red Cross had said about three hours earlier that the freed group had been turned over into its care.
Dr. Majed Al-Ansari, the spokesperson for Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the group includes 3 French citizens, 2 German citizens and 6 Argentinian citizens. In exchange, Al-Ansari said, Israel is releasing 33 Palestinians — 30 minors and 3 women — from Israeli prisons.
Earlier Monday, mediating country Qatar announced theof the temporary cease-fire, which began Friday and was initially set to last four days.
"The State of Qatar announces that, as part of the ongoing mediation, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip," Al-Ansari said in a social media post.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council at the White House, confirmed the extension at a news briefing held shortly after Qatar's announcement. Kirby said Hamas had agreed to release 20 additional hostages being held in Gaza back to Israel over the next two days, and added that they are working to extend the cease-fire further than that.
In the wake of the deadlyby Hamas militants, and the Israeli military's bombardment of the Gaza Strip that followed, ongoing negotiations led last week to the first pause in fighting since the war began.
Under the terms of thebrokered by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt, Hamas agreed to release at least 50 women and children kidnapped in Israel during the Oct. 7 rampage and held captive since then in Gaza. Israel, in turn, agreed to free about 150 Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons, while also honoring a cease-fire in the interim that has allowed humanitarian aid to reach the war-torn Gaza Strip, much of which has been devastated by airstrikes.
Although the terms of the short-term deal originally called for a four-day cease-fire, with Monday being the fourth and final day, Israel had said publicly that it would be willing to extend the pause for an additional day for every 10 additional hostages released by Hamas. Militants had taken an estimated 240 hostages from Israel on Oct. 7, with some foreign nationals included in that group, according to Israeli officials.
The latest hostage release on Monday came after three earlier rounds of releases. Each of those days, Israel released 39 Palestinian women and teens who had been imprisoned in Israel, for a total of 117 so far.
On Sunday,back to Israel, including 14 Israeli citizens and three foreign nationals, according to Israeli officials. The group included , a 4-year-old Israeli-American girl who was the youngest American citizen being held captive.
Hamas, 17 hostages, from Gaza late on Saturday night after an hours-long delay. Thirteen of the hostages who were freed that night are Israeli, and four are Thai nationals, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement. The group included seven Israeli children whose ages ranged from 3 to 16 years old, according to the prime minister's office.
The first group released by Hamas on Friday included— 13 Israelis, 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino, officials said.
"We just completed the return of the first of our hostages: children, their mothers and additional women," said Netanyahu on Friday. "Each of them is an entire world. But I emphasize to you, the families, and to you, citizens of Israel: we are committed to returning all the hostages. This is one of the aims of the war and we are committed to achieving all the aims of the war."
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