Six more Israeli hostages were released to the Red Cross on Thursday, Israel said, as abetween Israel and Hamas, the Gaza Strip's ruling militant group, neared its one-week mark. That followed the release of two other Israeli hostages earlier in the day.
The latest six hostages were transferred to the Red Cross and are currently on their way via Egypt to Israel, the Israeli military said.
The spokesperson for Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there were two minors and six females among those released Thursday, including several with dual nationalities including an Israeli-Mexican, Israeli-Russian and an Israeli-Uruguayan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office identified the six prisoners released as 29-year-old Shani Goren, 41-year-old Nili Margalit, 30-year-old Ilana Gritzewsky Kimchi, 29-year-old Sapir Cohen, 18-year-old Bilal Ziyadne and 17-year-old Aisha Ziyadne.
Bedouin siblings Bilal and Aisha Ziyadne, both Israeli citizens, were kidnapped from Kibbutz Holit, where they went to work with their father, Yousef, and their older brother, Hamza, said a spokesperson for the Hostages and Missing Families Forum. Their father and older brother are still being held captive by Hamas, the spokesperson said.
As part of the deal, Israel released another 30 Palestinian prisoners, including 23 minors and seven women, Qatar's spokesperson said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office identified the two Israelis released earlier in the day as 21-year-old Mia Schem and 40-year-old Amit Soussana.
Schem, a French-Israeli woman, appeared inreleased by Hamas in October where her right arm seemed to be injured. Her mother, Karen Schem, told CBS News at the time, "It's very hard to see my daughter, I see the pain, I see that she's in physical pain."
"I see that she's very emotional and very, very scared," said Karen Schem.
Mia Schem was seen in a convoy near Ofakim, Israel, on Thursday after her release. Both Schem and Soussana were held captive for 55 days in Gaza.
Earlier on Thursday, Israel and Hamas reached an agreementin Gaza for at least 24 more hours, the Qatari government announced, pushing the humanitarian pause into its seventh consecutive day. The announcement came just before the cease-fire was set to expire, and followed a previous extension of the halt in fighting.
The cease-fire started last Friday and was initially set to last four days. Brokered by mediator Qatar, as well as Egypt and the United States, it has resulted in the first break in fighting since Israel declared war on Hamas and began its bombardment of Gaza in the wake of militants' Oct. 7 attack on Israel in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed. The backbone of the truce is Hamas' pledge to release women and children being held hostage in Gaza and Israel's pledge, in return, to release Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
The deal has so far seen dozens of hostages returned to Israel by Hamas and well over 100 Palestinians freed from prisons. Israeli officials say more than 100 people taken from Israel on Oct. 7 remain in captivity.
Asked how many hostages being held captive in Gaza were still alive on Thursday, senior Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad told CBS News foreign correspondent Holly Williams, "I do not know."
"The number is not important," Hamad said, adding, "we are continuing to release the civilians."
Hamad told Williams that Hamas wants a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, which has been largely decimated in Israeli military airstrikes and where, according to Hamas officials, more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed. Hamas has indicated that the group would be interested in releasing hostages who are men, including Israeli soldiers, if the cease-fire is extended further. Under the terms of their agreement, Israel has freed around three Palestinian prisoners for every hostage released by Hamas, with everyone freed so far being women and children.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Netanyahu and other Israeli and Palestinian officials on Thursday, in his third trip to the region since the Israel-Hamas war began. Blinken said he hoped the cease-fire could be extended again, with more hostages released, the Associated Press reported.
"This process is producing results. It's important, and we hope that it can continue," he said, according to the AP.
Blinken also met Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, where he "discussed ongoing efforts to accelerate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, including through maximizing humanitarian pauses," a spokesperson for Blinken, Matthew Miller, said in a statement.
The latest extension of the cease-fire in Gaza, and the hostages freed by Hamas on Thursday, came amidin Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli police said Thursday that three people were killed in a shooting that targeted a crowded bus stop in Jerusalem, with Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Gen-Gvir quickly blaming Hamas for the attack. Police said the two gunmen were killed by Israeli soldiers at the scene.
"These are apparently Hamas operatives, who speak here with two voices — one voice of a so-called cease-fire and a second voice of terror," Gavir, a far-right member of Netanyahu's cabinet, told reporters at the site of the shooting, according to BBC News.
Hamas and its armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, took responsibility for the attack in statements released later on Thursday, which called the shooting "a natural response to the unprecedented occupation crimes" of Israel seemingly in reference to the military operations in Gaza, the killing of two children Wednesday in the West Bank and "widespread violations that our prisoners are exposed to" in Israeli prisons.
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