In a significant turn of events, Israel-Hamas cease fire extended as 5th group of hostages released, bringing a temporary calm to the war-ravaged Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military confirmed the release late Monday, extending the truce for an additional two days.
This development followed the release of almost 70 women and children hostages since Friday, with 50 of them being Israelis and 150 Palestinians from Israeli prisons.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced that after an initial medical assessment, the freed hostages would be accompanied until they were reunited with their families.
As part of the agreement, Israel released 33 Palestinian prisoners, who cheering crowds warmly welcomed in Ramallah.
The truce, initially set to end on Monday, garnered support for an extension from Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The temporary humanitarian truce facilitated the release of hostages and allowed for a surge in additional humanitarian assistance to civilians in the Gaza Strip.
President Joe Biden expressed satisfaction with the pause, emphasizing the need to continue until all hostages held by Hamas terrorists are released.
The United States has pledged $100 million in aid to Palestinians amid the ongoing crisis, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken planning his third trip to the Middle East.
The Israeli government has authorized the possible release of fifty more Palestinians detained in Israeli jails, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, after the extending of the interim ceasefire.
An official statement from Netanyahu's office states that the Palestinians currently held by Israel might be released "in the event that a release of additional Israeli hostages is carried out."
According to Netanyahu's administration, the 50 detainees were identified as "female" Palestinians. As part of the interim agreement, Israel has freed all Palestinian detainees, including children and women, from its custody.
Eleven hostages were freed, including 34-year-old Sharon Alony Cunio and her twin children, Yuli and Emma, who are three years old. A member of the Cunio family in New York has been fighting tooth and nail to have them released.
Alana Zeitchik of Brooklyn, an American cousin of Sharon Cunio's, has begun a campaign to bring home various Israeli relatives who have been held captive since the Hamas assault on October 7. The effort is called Bring Our Family Home.
Among the first batch of captives released last week were Amelia, Cunio's 5-year-old daughter, and Danielle Alony, 44 years old, Cunio's sister. The Hamas is still holding David Cunio, who is Sharon's husband, hostage in Gaza.
Near the Israel-Gaza border, on Kibbutz Nir Oz, all six members of the family were there when Hamas terrorists launched their assault.
Families of the released hostages provided insights into the challenging conditions endured during the seven weeks in captivity.
Reports highlighted irregular feeding, weight loss, and cramped living conditions. Talks are underway to potentially extend the temporary truce for an additional four days, reflecting the delicate negotiations between the parties involved.
Hostages were released by Hamas
The Israel-Hamas battle has prompted the Biden administration to give $100 million in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.
However, worries that Hamas, the terrorist group in Gaza that started the latest fighting on October 7, may take control of some of it have hindered the administration's eagerness to transfer much-needed assistance.
The U.S. considers Hamas a terrorist group.
Why would we spend a minute of our time … to figure out how to get more aid to Gaza to help terrorists? This makes no sense.- Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
As the situation unfolds, the temporary truce extension offers a glimmer of hope for more hostage releases and the delivery of humanitarian aid to those affected.
The international community closely watches the developments, balancing the urgency of aid with concerns about its potential misuse by designated terrorist organizations.
The delicate nature of these negotiations underscores the complexity of addressing the humanitarian crisis and fostering lasting peace in the region.