Hamas released 24 hostages on Friday during the first day of the war's first truce, including Israeli women and children and Thai farm workers, after guns fell silent across the Gaza Strip for the first time in seven weeks.
The hostages were transferred out of Gaza and handed over to Egyptian authorities at the Rafah border crossing, accompanied by eight staff members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a four-car convoy, the ICRC said.
Qatar, which acted as mediator for the truce deal, said 13 Israelis had been released, some with dual nationality, plus 10 Thais and a Filipino. Thirty-nine Palestinian women and children detainees were released from Israeli jails.
"We have just completed the return of the first batch of our hostages. Children, their mothers and other women. Each and every one of them is a world in itself," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "But I stress to you, the families, and to you, citizens of Israel: We are committed to returning all our hostages."
The Israeli hostages released included four children accompanied by four family members, and five other elderly women.
Corinne Moshe, daughter-in-law of 72-year-old Adina Moshe, said her husband and his siblings were waiting at a hospital to be reunited with their mother. "I miss her very,very much, I want her to be back already. I want to have dinner with her and the entire family again," she said.
MEDICAL CHECKS FOR RELEASED HOSTAGES
The Israeli military said the released hostages underwent a medical assessment inside Israeli territory before being taken to hospitals to be reunited with their families.
Under the terms of the four-day Israel-Hamas truce, 50 women and children hostages are to be released in return for 150 Palestinian women and children among thousands of detainees in Israeli jails. Israel says the truce could be extended if more hostages are released at a rate of 10 per day.
Those released on Friday were exchanged for 24 jailed Palestinian women and 15 teenagers. In at least three cases, before the prisoners were released, Israeli police raided their families' homes in Jerusalem, witnesses said. Police declined to comment.
A source briefed on the negotiations said the release of the Thai workers, who were all men, was unrelated to the truce talks and followed a separate track mediated by Egypt and Qatar.
Thai and Filipino farm workers employed in southern Israel were among around 240 hostages taken to Gaza by gunmen when Hamas fighters launched a killing spree on Oct. 7.
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on social media that 12 Thai workers had been freed, two more than the figure given by the Qataris. No reason for the discrepancy was given.