On the second day of a four-day cease-fire in Gaza, Hamas and Israel are set to exchange more hostages, offering a temporary respite after seven weeks of relentless Israeli attacks and aggression on Gaza and the West Bank.
Initiated on Friday, the truce allowed much-needed humanitarian aid to reach the war-torn Gaza, marking the first break from Israeli bombardment.
On the first day, Hamas released 24 hostages, and Israel reciprocated by freeing 39 Palestinian hostages from prison, AP reported.
The hostages Hamas freed included 13 Israelis, 10 Thais, and one Filipino, according to Al Jazeera. The foreign nationals were released outside of the framework of the deal.
The agreement stipulates that Hamas will release one Israeli hostage for every three Palestinians freed. Israel’s Prison Service is preparing 42 Palestinians for release, with Hamas set to free 14 Israeli hostages.
The Palestinians set to be released today include 18 women and 24 teenage boys, Al Jazeera reported.
The exchange of hostages will be facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, but the exact timing of the releases is not yet clear.
The truce aims to see the release of at least 50 Israeli hostages by Hamas and 150 Palestinian prisoners by Israel.
There remains a possibility of extending the cease-fire, contingent on the release of additional hostages.
The start of the cease-fire brought a temporary halt to the violence that had displaced three-quarters of Gaza’s population and devastated residential areas.
However, Israel’s attacks in the West Bank have not stopped, killing Palestinian doctor Shamekh Kamal Abu al-Rub Saturday morning in the town of Qabatiya.
Palestine’s Minister of Health Mai Al-Kaila condemned the killing of the doctor, saying that it adds to the series of heinous crimes Israeli occupation forces have committed against the Palestinian people, medical professionals, and the entire healthcare system in both Gazaand the West Bank.