On Monday, two Israeli elderly women were released by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip, indicating possible progress in the efforts to secure the release of over 200 individuals taken during the Oct. 7 incursion into Israel.
The International Committee of the Red Cross received the hostages, who were then set on their journey back home, as reported by the ICRC. The Associated Press has mentioned that these women, identified as Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz from the Nir Oz kibbutz, were abducted along with their spouses. The latter have not been set free.
Three days prior, an American mother and her child were also released due to mediation by Qatar and Egypt. The Oct. 7 Hamas forays into Israel led to the capture of more than 200 individuals and resulted in the death of 1,400 people. The releases have given hope to the families of the remaining hostages. They have urged the Israelis to prioritize their family members’ safety over the impending ground invasion of Gaza, which might disrupt further dialogue.
The hostage situation has influenced the decision-making of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding a potential ground assault on Gaza. Following the events of the attack, the anticipation of such an invasion was heightened. However, US and European leaders have advised Netanyahu to shift his focus towards the hostages instead.
Simultaneously, Israel has intensified its aerial offensives, which have led to the death of approximately 5,000 Palestinians. This situation has caused a large number of residents to relocate to the southern parts of the Gaza Strip, seeking refuge.
Hamas has signaled its willingness to release civilian hostages, primarily women and children. Yet, it’s believed they might only release soldiers in exchange for detained Hamas members. US President Joe Biden has been advised to work towards a truce between Hamas and the Israelis by some factions within his party. However, Biden recently suggested prioritizing the hostages’ release before any discussions.
Recently, two American citizens, Judith and Natalie Raanan, were released from Kibbutz Nahal Oz, the location of one of the most severe attacks by Hamas.
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