Hamas released 17 hostages kidnapped to the Gaza Strip on Sunday: 14 Israeli citizens and three foreigners, the Israeli army announced. Hamas announced the release of 13 Israelis, three Thais and a Russian. US President Joe Biden confirmed that among the third group of freed hostages was 4-year-old Abigail Edan, who has dual Israeli-American citizenship. She is the first American woman released from Hamas captivity.
As part of the ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip in force since Friday, according to the Israeli army, Hamas released 14 citizens on Sunday Israel and three foreigners who were taken over by the Red Cross.
Hamas announced the release of 13 Israelis, three Thais and a Russian. Previous information provided by the Times of Israel website shows that among the 14 Israelis there is a person who also holds citizenship Russia. Hamas announced that it had released her in addition to the 13 Israelis stipulated in the ceasefire agreement.
First American woman released from Hamas captivity
President of the USA Joe Biden confirmed at a press conference that among the 17 hostages released by Hamas on Sunday was 4-year-old Abigail Edan, who has dual Israeli-American citizenship. She is the first American woman released from Hamas captivity.
Biden said Edan witnessed her parents being killed by Hamas militants during their attack on Israel on October 7 and had been detained in the Gaza Strip since then.
– What she went through is unthinkable – said the American president. As he said, the girl’s mother was killed in front of her, the girl ran away to her father, who covered her with his own body, and then he was killed himself.
He expressed hope that Hamas would release more Americans.
The girl was the youngest of the kidnapped citizens USA. A few days ago, while in Hamas captivity, she turned four years old.
Grandpa Abigail: I’m so grateful to Biden
– I couldn’t believe it for a moment – said the girl’s grandfather, Carmel Edan, while waiting for Abigail in Israel.
Although he was happy for his granddaughter’s return, he lamented the loss of her parents.
He thanked Biden for his role in securing her release. – I am very grateful to Biden. We love him for all the help he gives us and all Americans, thank you very much. We love you. Continue to support us. We are a democracy, he told Reuters.
Earlier on Sunday, national security adviser to the US president Jake Sullivan reported “growing optimism” about the possibility of Edan’s release. – We have reasons to suspect that an American citizen will be released today – he added.
Hostage exchange between Israel and Hamas
Hamas released 17 people on Sunday in the third round of hostage exchanges for Palestinian prisoners.
The Israeli Prison Service announced on Sunday that 39 Palestinian prisoners had been released. All freed Palestinian prisoners faced terrorism charges, and many were convicted for their actions. Those released are women or minors under 18 years of age, the Israeli Prison Service added.
On Friday, Hamas released 13 Israeli citizens and 11 foreigners, and Israel released 39 prisoners. On Saturday, 13 Israelis and four Thais were released from the Gaza Strip in exchange for 39 Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas wants to extend the truce
The Times of Israel website reported on Sunday that Hamas announced in a statement that it wants to extend the truce in the war with Israel by 2-4 days in exchange for the release of additional hostages who would be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners.
This is probably the first official signal from Hamas that it wants to extend the ceasefire in force until Monday, the Israeli website notes. It reminds that, according to the agreements, for each additional day of truce, Hamas will have to release 10 more hostages.
Under the earlier agreement, the truce was to be in force from Friday for four days. During this time, approximately 50 Israeli hostages are to be released in exchange for approximately 150 Palestinian convicts in Israeli prisons.
The Israeli government agreed that the ceasefire could be extended for a maximum of 10 days and that the number of released Palestinian prisoners could not exceed 300. To increase these limits, cabinet members would need to vote on the agreement again, the Times of Israel notes.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/ABIR SULTAN