Israel-Hamas war: Two German teens among freed hostages

Tuesday, 28 November 2023 (11:18 IST)
Eleven hostages released by the militant-Islamist group Hamas have arrived back in Israel. Meanwhile, EU chief von der Leyen has welcomed a reported extension to the truce in Gaza. Follow DW for more.

Israel approves list of Palestinian prisoners for release
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that it had approved a list of Palestinian prisoners to be released, should more Israeli hostages also be freed.
"The government has approved the inclusion of 50 female prisoners in the list of prisoners eligible to be released in the event that a release of additional Israeli hostages is carried out," Netanyahu's office said in a post on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
Under the terms of the initial agreement, 50 Israeli hostages taken by the militant-Islamist Hamas group would be released in return for 150 Palestinian prisoners.
Mediator Qatar on Monday announced that the temporary pause in fighting in Gaza had been extended by two days, although there has been no official confirmation from Israel.
Israel has said the truce could be extended by an extra day for every additional 10 hostages freed, but has vowed to quickly resume its offensive once it ends.
Blinken to visit Israel and West Bank this week
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be visiting Israel and the West Bank again this week as the US hopes to find ways of extending the truce in Gaza.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Blinken "will engage leaders to address the urgent humanitarian situation in Gaza."
The visit will be Blinken's third trip to the region since Israel declared war on Hamas, following the militant-Islamist group's large-scale terror attacks on Israel on October 7.
Blinken is expected to travel to Israel and the West Bank after attending NATO ministerial meetings in Brussels and North Macedonia.
EU chief welcomes truce extension
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has welcomed an agreement to extend the temporary truce between Israel and the Hamas militant-Islamist group.
"I once again call on the Hamas terrorists to release all hostages taken during their horrific attack of October 7," von der Leyen said on Tuesday.  
"In the past four days, it has been heart-warming to see the first Israeli hostages freed, along with hostages of other nationalities. I also welcome the substantial increase in the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians civilians in Gaza made possible by this pause in the hostilities," von der Leyen said.
The EU chief said that 20 flights had brought in 900 tons of aid to Gaza via Egypt and said another four flights are planned for this week.
Some of the released hostages in a 'critical condition,' physician tells DW
DW spoke to Professor Hagai Levine, a physician and epidemiologist, who is heading the medical team of the Hostages Family Forum in Israel.
The professor admits that the last few days, with the release of some of the hostages held by the militant-Islamist group Hamas, have been a mix of "hope and despair."
"While some hostages are released," Levine said, "my heart and soul is not only with them, but also with the others that are still in Gaza, more than 150 hostages, that some of them need urgent medical care, and the Red cross is still not allowed to enter there. So I have mixed feelings and strong feelings."
Of those released, what struck the professor most was "the resilience and solidarity" among them, in the face of such adversity.
Levine shared a story of how one hostage "requested that instead of being released," she asked another woman to be released first because she was "in worse condition."
Levine called for "patience" as the hostages ease their way back to full health. 
Red Cross bus arrives in West Bank
A Red Cross bus carrying 33 freed Palestinian prisoners arrived in the West Bank town of Ramallah early on Tuesday. It was the fourth such release since a temporary truce between Israel and the militant-Islamist Hamas group.
The Associated Press reported that the bus was met with loud cheers as it made its way through the streets.
Since Friday, 50 Israeli hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners have been released.
A four-day pause in fighting — which facilitated the exchange of hostages taken during the October 7 terror attack by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners — was due to run out on Monday night. However, mediator Qatar announced it would be extended for another two days.
Israel prison service confirms release of 33 Palestinian prisoners
The Israeli prison authority said early on Tuesday that 33 Palestinian prisoners had been released in line with the temporary truce in Gaza.
According to the prison authority the inmates included women and teenagers.
This brings the number of freed Palestinian prisoners to 150.
The militant-Islamist group Hamas, listed as a terrorist organization by Germany, the US, Israel and others, handed over 11 hostages to the International Red Cross on Monday in return for the prisoners.
German teenagers among released hostages, Baerbock confirms
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock confirmed that two German teenagers were among the hostages released by the militant-Islamist group Hamas on Monday.
"After 52 days of suffering and despair, their mothers are able to take them in their arms again," Baerbock wrote on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. "My thoughts are with those families who continue to worry. We are doing everything we can to ensure they can hold their loved ones in their arms again as well."
Hamas, listed as a terrorist organization by Germany, the US, Israel and others, handed over 11 hostages to the International Red Cross on Monday. In return, Israel released 33 Palestinian prisoners. 

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