ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 148

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Nov. 25: 13 Israeli, 4 Thai hostages freed from Gaza arrive in Israel, are taken to hospitals

Step was held up by Hamas for hours * Group includes 8 Israeli kids, 5 Israeli women, but mom of freed child remains captive in Gaza * Israel frees 39 Palestinian security inmates

  • Emily Hand (second from right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand (right) while Hila Rotem (second from left), whose mother is still held hostage, reunites with family members in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Courtesy; clause 27a of the copyright law)
    Emily Hand (second from right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand (right) while Hila Rotem (second from left), whose mother is still held hostage, reunites with family members in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Courtesy; clause 27a of the copyright law)
  • Some of the 17 hostages released from Gaza late on November 25, 2023. (Social media used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)
    Some of the 17 hostages released from Gaza late on November 25, 2023. (Social media used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)
  • Israeli hostages released on November 25, 2023: Top from L-R: Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam, siblings Alma and Noam Or; middle: Hila Rotem, Emily Hand, Shiri Weiss and her daughter Noga; bottom: Adi Shoham and children Yahel and Naveh, Maya Regev, and Shoshan Haran. (Photos: Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)
    Israeli hostages released on November 25, 2023: Top from L-R: Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam, siblings Alma and Noam Or; middle: Hila Rotem, Emily Hand, Shiri Weiss and her daughter Noga; bottom: Adi Shoham and children Yahel and Naveh, Maya Regev, and Shoshan Haran. (Photos: Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)
  • Hila Rotem Shoshani, 13, is embraced by her uncle Yair Rotem as they reunite, in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Hila Rotem Shoshani, 13, is embraced by her uncle Yair Rotem as they reunite, in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Tom Hand embraces his daughter Emily Hand as they reunite, in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Tom Hand embraces his daughter Emily Hand as they reunite, in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Emily Hand (right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand, in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Emily Hand (right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand, in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Adi Shoham and her three-year-old daughter Yahel are received by IDF soldiers after being freed from captivity in Gaza, November 25, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Adi Shoham and her three-year-old daughter Yahel are received by IDF soldiers after being freed from captivity in Gaza, November 25, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Noga Weiss, 18, right, and her mother Shiri Weiss, 53, second from right, are received by IDF soldiers after being freed from captivity in Gaza, November 25, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Noga Weiss, 18, right, and her mother Shiri Weiss, 53, second from right, are received by IDF soldiers after being freed from captivity in Gaza, November 25, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • An Israeli holds a placard with pictures of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, in a show of solidarity, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (AP Photo/ Leo Correa)
    An Israeli holds a placard with pictures of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, in a show of solidarity, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (AP Photo/ Leo Correa)
  • Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks with troops in the northern Gaza Strip, November 25, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
    Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks with troops in the northern Gaza Strip, November 25, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.

Hamas publishes clip showing it handing over some of the hostages

The Hamas terror group publishes footage from its handover of some of the hostages it freed hours ago from captivity in Gaza as part of the temporary truce deal with Israel.

Irish PM says relieved Emily Hand has been ‘found’ after she was ‘lost’; is slammed over wording

Emily Hand (second from right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand (right) while Hila Rotem (second from left), whose mother is still held hostage, reunites with family members in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Courtesy; clause 27a of the copyright law)
Emily Hand (second from right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand (right) while Hila Rotem (second from left), whose mother is still held hostage, reunites with family members in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Courtesy; clause 27a of the copyright law)

In a post that has quickly been lambasted on Twitter, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar welcomes the release of Israeli-Irish hostage Emily Hand, “an innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned.”

The passive tweet from Varadkar does not mention that the 9-year-old Hand had been held hostage for 50 days in Gaza by Hamas terrorists after she was kidnapped from a sleepover with her friend.

“We breathe a massive sigh of relief. Our prayers have been answered,” he says.

Varadkar draws flak from Israeli officials and Jewish groups over the wording of the statement.

Israel says it has released 39 Palestinian prisoners after 13 Israelis freed from Gaza

Shuruq Dwayat, left, a Palestinian prisoner released by Israel, is hugged by relatives as she arrives home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Bahar, early Sunday Nov. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Shuruq Dwayat, left, a Palestinian prisoner released by Israel, is hugged by relatives as she arrives home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Bahar, early Sunday Nov. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The Israel Prisons Service says it has released 39 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails following the release of 13 Israeli hostages from Gaza.

IPS says they were released from three different prisons: Megiddo, Ofer and Damun. All of the prisoners are either women or minors 18 and under.

They all live in either the West Bank or East Jerusalem and are being returned to their homes. They were all charged with or convicted of security crimes, including attempted murder, but none were convicted of murder.

Assaf Harofeh hospital says it will treat the 4 foreign hostages released tonight

Some of the 17 hostages released from Gaza late on November 25, 2023. (Social media used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)
Some of the 17 hostages released from Gaza late on November 25, 2023. (Social media used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

The Assaf Harofeh Medical Center says that it is readying to receive the four Thai nationals who were released from Hamas captivity in Gaza tonight.

Israeli authorities have not released their names.

The medical center says that its medical team as well as social workers and mental health professionals are ready to provide them with all of their needs.

Freed hostage Maya Regev, 21, in stable condition, says health ministry

Maya Regev, who was abducted by Hamas on October 7, 2023 and released on November 25, 2023. (Courtesy)
Maya Regev, who was abducted by Hamas on October 7, 2023 and released on November 25, 2023. (Courtesy)

The Health Ministry says that Maya Regev, who was released from captivity in Gaza tonight, has arrived at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba in stable condition.

Regev, 21, who was kidnapped from the Supernova music festival with her brother, Itai, who remains held hostage in Gaza, was the only freed hostage brought to the closer Soroka to undergo immediate medical treatment.

The hospital describes her condition as moderate, and says her life isn’t in danger.

The Health Ministry says that her family is waiting for her and that they call on the public to respect her privacy at this time as she receives treatment and reunites with family and friends.

Family members of released hostages: We’re overjoyed but waiting for all hostages to return

Noam Avigdori, 12, and Sharon Avigdori , were visiting family in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 7. They were abducted and held as hostages in Gaza for 50 days. (Courtesy)
Noam Avigdori, 12, and Sharon Avigdori , were visiting family in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 7. They were abducted and held as hostages in Gaza for 50 days. (Courtesy)

Family members of some of the hostages released tonight from Gaza react to their return to Israel with joy and emotion.

Inbal Tzach, the cousin of Adi Shoham — who was released with her two children and her mother, but not her husband — says that “like everyone else we watched our loved ones on their way home. We saw Adi with Nave, Yahal, Shoshan, Noam, and Sharon. Of course we are still waiting for Tal to come home, as well as for everyone else. The struggle has not ended. This is the saddest joy and the happiest sadness, but our family is home. Keep fighting with us.”

Sharon Avigdori and her daughter, Noam, who were also released, are Adi’s aunt and cousin.

Zohar Avigdori, Sharon’s sister-in-law, says that the family is “very excited, our legs are shaking and we are impatiently waiting to hug our loved ones, Noam and Sharon. We don’t forget for a moment that these are the same legs that will continue the journey to sustain us in the long journey that is still ahead of us — until the safe return of all the hostages.”

Mirit Regev, the mother of Maya Regev, 21, who was released without her brother, Itai, 18, says that “I am excited and happy that Maya is on her way to us. Along with that, my heart is split in two because my son Itai is still in Gaza in Hamas captivity. I am going to hug Maya so, so hard, but we will not stop until Itai and all the hostages come home.”

PHOTO: Emily Hand, Hila Rotem reunite with family members in Israel

Emily Hand (second from right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand (right) while Hila Rotem (second from left), whose mother is still held hostage, reunites with family members in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Courtesy; clause 27a of the copyright law)
Emily Hand (second from right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand (right) while Hila Rotem (second from left), whose mother is still held hostage, reunites with family members in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Courtesy; clause 27a of the copyright law)

Emily Hand, 9, and Hila Rotem, 12, reunite with their family members after crossing into Israel in one of the first photos published following their release.

Emily, whose mother died when she was a toddler, meets her father, Tom, while Hila, whose mother is still held hostage in Gaza, meets her uncle and another family member.

Emily’s family issues a statement saying that they “have no words to describe our emotions after 50 difficult and very complicated days. We are happy, but we don’t forget for a moment Raya Rotem who did not come home today and all the hostages who are still there.”

12 hostages being brought to Sheba Medical Center; 1 in need of urgent treatment going to Soroka

The Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan says it will be receiving 12 of the Israeli hostages just released from Gaza.

Maya Regev, 21, is being taken to the nearer Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba since she is in need of urgent medical treatment, although sources say her life is not in danger. Regev was kidnapped from the Supernova music festival in Re’im with her brother, Itai, 18, who remains in captivity.

The hostages’ families will meet them at the hospitals in specially designated areas.

Israeli sources accuse Hamas of violating deal by releasing child without mother

Mother and daughter Raya and Hila Rotem, taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from their home in Kibbutz Be'eri. Hila was released on November 26, 2023. (Courtesy)
Mother and daughter Raya and Hila Rotem, taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from their home in Kibbutz Be'eri. Hila was released on November 26, 2023. (Courtesy)

Sources in Israel have accused Hamas of violating the terms of the truce deal by releasing a child without her mother.

Hila Rotem, 12, was freed tonight but her mother, Raya Rotem, 54, remains a hostage in Gaza.

Israeli sources say that this discrepancy was one of the sticking points during the delays and disagreements earlier today.

Irish FM welcomes the release of Irish-Israeli citizen Emily Hand

Emily Hand was abducted from a friend's home in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 7, 2023. She was initially thought to have been killed. (Courtesy)
Emily Hand was abducted from a friend's home in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 7, 2023. She was initially thought to have been killed. (Courtesy)

Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin issues a statement saying he is “delighted” by the release of Irish-Israeli citizen Emily Hand, 9, from Gaza tonight.

“After weeks of trauma, this is a precious and deeply moving moment for the Hand family,” Martin says.

He thanks Qatar, Egypt and the US for their roles in brokering the deal, and calls for the immediate release of all the remaining hostages.

First photos emerge of hostages after their release from Gaza

Some of the 17 hostages released from Gaza late on November 25, 2023. (Social media used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)
Some of the 17 hostages released from Gaza late on November 25, 2023. (Social media used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

First photos have emerged of the hostages released tonight from Gaza, who have now crossed into Israel.

The images show a number of Israeli and foreign hostages, including 9-year-old Emily Hand and Shoshan Haran, 67.

The photos are from the Rafah crossing where they were handed over by the Red Cross to Israeli authorities.

IDF confirms 17 released hostages have crossed into Israeli territory

Israeli hostages released on November 25, 2023: Top from L-R: Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam, siblings Alma and Noam Or; middle: Hila Rotem, Emily Hand, Shiri Weiss and her daughter Noga; bottom: Adi Shoham and children Yahel and Naveh, Maya Regev, and Shoshan Haran. (Photos: Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)
Israeli hostages released on November 25, 2023: Top from L-R: Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam, siblings Alma and Noam Or; middle: Hila Rotem, Emily Hand, Shiri Weiss and her daughter Noga; bottom: Adi Shoham and children Yahel and Naveh, Maya Regev, and Shoshan Haran. (Photos: Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)

A statement from the Israel Defense Forces says the released hostages are now in Israeli territory, and are being escorted by special forces and the Shin Bet after undergoing an initial medical assessment.

“Our forces are accompanying the released hostages until they reach their families in the hospitals,” the statement says.

“The commanders of the IDF and its soldiers salute and embrace the returning hostages upon their return home,” it continues. “We will continue to work together with the defense establishment’s bodies for the return of all the hostages,” the statement adds.

The IDF also asks the public to “show patience and sensitivity and respect the privacy of released hostages and their families.”

These are the 13 Israeli hostages released from Gaza captivity tonight

Israeli hostages released on November 25, 2023: Top from L-R: Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam, siblings Alma and Noam Or; middle: Hila Rotem, Emily Hand, Shiri Weiss and her daughter Noga; bottom: Adi Shoham and children Yahel and Naveh, Maya Regev, and Shoshan Haran. (Photos: Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)
Israeli hostages released on November 25, 2023: Top from L-R: Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam, siblings Alma and Noam Or; middle: Hila Rotem, Emily Hand, Shiri Weiss and her daughter Noga; bottom: Adi Shoham and children Yahel and Naveh, Maya Regev, and Shoshan Haran. (Photos: Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)

These are the 13 Israeli hostages freed from captivity in Gaza tonight who are on their way to Israel from Egypt.

• Shoshan Haran, 67
• Her daughter Adi Shoham, 38, and Adi’s children Yahel, 3, and Naveh, 8
• Shiri Weiss, 53 and her daughter, Noga Weiss, 18
• Maya Regev, 21
• Hila Rotem, 12
• Emily Hand, 9
• Noam Or, 17 and Alma Or, 13
• Noam Avigdori, 12, and her mother Sharon Avigdori, 52

First of Israeli hostages being released tonight identified by family members

Noam, left, and Alma Or, two siblings taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from their home in Kibbutz Be'eri, and released on November 26, 2023 (Courtesy)
Noam, left, and Alma Or, two siblings taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from their home in Kibbutz Be'eri, and released on November 26, 2023 (Courtesy)

Families of the hostages have begun to identify and confirm the identities of those being released now from Gaza to Egypt, on their way to Israel.

So far they include:

Hila Rotem, 12, was taken captive by Hamas terrorists with her mother Raya Rotem, 54, who was not released with her daughter Saturday and remains a hostage in Gaza.

Emily Hand, 9, was initially thought to have been among those killed in the attack on Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7. Emily was at a sleepover at a friend’s house on the kibbutz when she was abducted without any family.

Noam Or, 17 and Alma Or, 13, were taken hostage by Hamas terrorists from their home in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7, alongside their father Dror Or, 48, and their cousin, Liam Or, 18. Mother Yonat Or was killed in the attack. Dror and Liam are assumed to remain as hostages in Gaza.

Noam Avigdori, 12, and her mother Sharon Avigdori, along with some 10 members of their extended family, were abducted from Kibbutz Be’eri. A number of family members were killed that day.

IDF says 17 hostages are in Egypt, heading to crossing with Israel

Noam Avigdori, 12, and Sharon Avigdori , were visiting family in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 7. They were abducted and held as hostages in Gaza for 50 days. (Courtesy)
Noam Avigdori, 12, and Sharon Avigdori , were visiting family in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 7. They were abducted and held as hostages in Gaza for 50 days. (Courtesy)

The Israel Defense Forces says the Red Cross has handed over the hostages to Egypt.

It says that according to information provided to the military, the hostages comprise 13 Israelis and four Thais.

The convoy carrying the hostages will head to the Kerem Shalom crossing, where Israeli officials will verify the list of names.

“IDF representatives are updating their families regularly,” it adds.

13 Israeli, 4 foreign hostages cross from Gaza into Egypt

Israeli hostages, including several children, are driven to the Rafah border crossing: A screengrab of live footage from the release on November 25, 2023 of the second group of Israeli hostages from Hamas in Gaza to the Red Cross. (Screen capture)
Israeli hostages, including several children, are driven to the Rafah border crossing: A screengrab of live footage from the release on November 25, 2023 of the second group of Israeli hostages from Hamas in Gaza to the Red Cross. (Screen capture)

Thirteen Israeli hostages and four foreign hostages have crossed from Gaza into Egypt.

Most of the Israeli hostages are believed to have been abducted from Kibbutz Be’eri.

Among those identified in the first images are Sharon Avigdori, 52, and her 12-year-old daughter, Noam Avigdori, as well as Noam Or, 17, and Alma Or, 13, whose mother Yonat was murdered and father and cousin remain in captivity.

IDF says it shot down a drone over Red Sea heading toward Eilat

The Israel Defense Forces says one of its fighter jets shot down a drone that was heading toward Israel, over the Red Sea.

It says the unmanned aerial vehicle did not enter Israeli airspace.

Explosions were heard in Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat amid the incident.

Earlier, the IDF fired interceptor missiles at two targets in the area, but later said it was a false alarm.

The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have fired several ballistic missiles and drones at the city in recent weeks, all of which were intercepted or missed their target.

IDF confirms 13 Israeli hostages are in hands of Red Cross, on their way out of Gaza

The IDF spokesperson’s office confirms that 13 Israeli hostages are in the hands of the Red Cross and are on their way to the Rafah crossing into Egypt.

From there they will be met by Israeli officials and brought into Israeli territory.

Hamas says it has handed 20 Israeli and foreign hostages to Red Cross

International Red Cross vehicles reportedly carrying Israeli hostages released by the Hamas terror group as part of an agreement including the release of Palestinian prisoners, cross the Rafah border point in the Gaza Strip on the way to Egypt on November 24, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)
International Red Cross vehicles reportedly carrying Israeli hostages released by the Hamas terror group as part of an agreement including the release of Palestinian prisoners, cross the Rafah border point in the Gaza Strip on the way to Egypt on November 24, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

The Hamas terror group announces that it has handed over 20 hostages — 13 Israelis and 7 foreigners — to the Red Cross.

The hostages are slated to be brought to Egypt’s Rafah border crossing to be handed over to Israeli officials, who will bring them into the country via a side entrance at the Kerem Shalom crossing.

White House: Biden has been briefed on issues with hostage deal delay all day

US President Joe Biden speaks to reporters in Nantucket, Mass., on Nov. 24, 2023, about hostages freed by Hamas in the first stage of a swap under a four-day ceasefire deal. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)
US President Joe Biden speaks to reporters in Nantucket, Mass., on Nov. 24, 2023, about hostages freed by Hamas in the first stage of a swap under a four-day ceasefire deal. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the implementation of the hostage deal from the beginning of the day, White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson says in a statement.

At 10 a.m. local time — following Hamas’s announcement of a delay in the deal — Biden phoned Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to discuss the holdup, Watson said. An official familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel earlier that Biden pushed the emir to put pressure on Hamas to move the deal forward.

Following Biden’s call, senior US officials were in regular contact with Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian counterparts to overcome hurdles to implementation, Watson says.

At 1:30 p.m. eastern time, the US was informed by Qatar that the agreement was back on track and that Red Cross staffers were en route to pick up the hostages, the White House adds.

Hamas says Palestinian bomber Israa Jaabis among those to be released by Israel tonight

Israa Jaabis at the District Court in Jerusalem on November 7, 2016, for a sentencing hearing. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israa Jaabis at the District Court in Jerusalem on November 7, 2016, for a sentencing hearing. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hamas says that Israa Jaabis, an imprisoned Palestinian bomber, is among those slated to be released from Israeli prison tonight as part of the hostage deal.

Jaabis was 31 in 2015 when she detonated a gas canister in her car after being pulled over by police near the Ma’ale Adumim settlement outside Jerusalem. She had been heading into Israel where she intended to carry out a suicide bombing, according to Israeli authorities.

The resulting fire caused burns to police officer Moshe Chen’s face and chest and also seriously injured Jaabis.

Last year Jaabis filed a request with the Israel Prisons Service for a nose job to repair the damage to her face, and was rejected.

IDF spokesman says there is ‘significant progress’ in release of hostages tonight

An International Red Cross Ambulance apparently carrying Israeli hostages -- elderly women and at least one child held in the Gaza Strip on November 24, 2023. (Screen grab via Al Arabiya used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
An International Red Cross Ambulance apparently carrying Israeli hostages -- elderly women and at least one child held in the Gaza Strip on November 24, 2023. (Screen grab via Al Arabiya used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says there is “significant progress” in the efforts to release the hostages from the Gaza Strip tonight, following delays by Hamas.

“The effort to return the hostages is our moral and ethical duty. We are determined to fulfill this in any way,” Hagari says in an evening press conference. “The effort tonight is progressing and we will inform the families and the public when things happen. Patience is required.”

“There is significant progress,” he adds.

Hagari says “nothing is final until it actually happens,” as Israel is indirectly negotiating with an “evil terror group.”

“We will return the hostages in any way, through the deal, or through the next stages of the war,” he says in response to a question. “If the agreement is not fulfilled, we will go back to fighting.”

Doctor who treated children released from Gaza last night says they’re in good health

Yoni Asher embraces his daughters Raz and Aviv after their release from Hamas captivity on November 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Yoni Asher embraces his daughters Raz and Aviv after their release from Hamas captivity on November 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Schneider Children’s Medical Center director Dr. Efrat Bron Harlev tells Channel 12 news that the four children released from Hamas captivity last night are in reasonably good health.

Without violating medical confidentiality, Harlev shares that Ohad Munder, 9, Emilia Aloni, 5, Raz Katz Asher, 4, and Aviv Katz Asher, 2, did not sustain eyesight damage from presumably being underground for weeks. She said that all the children lost weight, as would have been expected during their ordeal.

The Health Ministry and Welfare Ministry provided the hospitals with protocols to follow regarding medical and psycho-social treatment of the hostages upon arrival. The protocols included strict instructions on how to avoid Refeeding Syndrome, a potentially fatal condition resulting from overfeeding or rehydrating an undernourished person too quickly.

Munder was shown on the news being visited by a group of his friends and enjoying an ice cream cone with them.

Harlev said that the children, along with their mothers and grandmothers, would remain in the hospital for several more days until they feel better and have adjusted to being home in Israel. Before the former hostages are discharged, the hospital’s medical and psycho-social staff will coordinate ongoing care for them through their health maintenance organizations.

Biden spoke with Qatari emir to push resolution to hostage release delay

President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 31, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 31, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

US President Joe Biden spoke a short while ago with Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, urging him to act to overcome the Hamas delay in the implementation of the hostage deal, an official familiar with the matter tells The Times of Israel.

Less than an hour ago Qatar confirmed that the release of the next batch of hostages would move ahead soon after a delay of hours.

Qatar: 8 Israeli children, 5 Israeli women, 7 foreigners to be released tonight

Israeli soldiers wait for the arrival of released hostages at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, November 25, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers wait for the arrival of released hostages at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, November 25, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Eight Israeli children and five Israeli women will shortly be released from Gaza, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari says.

Seven foreign nationals who have been held hostage in Gaza will also be released, al-Ansari adds.

The Palestinian prisoners to be released in this phase by Israel are 33 minors and six women, according to the Qatar foreign ministry spokesperson.

“We reiterate our appreciation to our mediation partners — Egypt and the United States — for the joint efforts that removed obstacles in implementing the terms of the agreement for today,” al-Ansari adds.

IDF preparations at the Kerem Shalom border crossing for the arrival of Israeli children freed by Hamas on November 25, 2023, after being held hostage in Gaza since October 7, 2023 (IDF Spokesman)

Al-Ansari expresses Doha’s hope that the “momentum” built over the past two day of the truce will lead to its extension past Monday and to advanced negotiations toward a longer-term ceasefire.

100,000 said to take part in Tel Aviv rally for hostages: ‘We will not rest’

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of hostages in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of hostages in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Around 100,000 people are believed to be taking part in a rally in Tel Aviv calling for the return of all the hostages in Gaza, as the second batch, supposed to be released this afternoon, is delayed.

Orna and Ronen Neutra, the parents of Omer Neutra, a lone soldier abducted on October 7, say he was born one month after September 11, 2001. Omer was raised in a Hebrew-speaking home by Israeli parents in Long Island, New York, and decided to join the IDF after high school.

“It wasn’t easy but there is such a support system for lone soldiers here,” says Orna. “We last spoke to him Friday afternoon [on October 6], he said it would be a calm Shabbat. We love you, Omer, and we will not rest until they bring you home now.”

After delay, Qatar says 13 Israelis, 7 foreigners to be released from Gaza ‘tonight’

A picture taken from the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing shows ambulances lined up on the Egyptian side on November 24, 2023. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
A picture taken from the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing shows ambulances lined up on the Egyptian side on November 24, 2023. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

After hours of delays, Qatar, a key mediator in the hostage deal, confirms that 13 Israelis and 7 foreigners will be freed from captivity in Gaza “tonight.”

“Obstacles to release of prisoners were overcome through Qatari-Egyptian contacts with both sides,” Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari tweets.

Hamas also confirms that the release is moving ahead.

An Israeli official said earlier that they are “cautiously optimistic” that the issues had been resolved and the release of the second group of hostages would still be happening tonight.

Israel expresses ‘cautious optimism’ second release of hostages will take place tonight

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid enter the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing with Egypt on the second day of a truce between Israel and Hamas on November 25, 2023. (Mohammed ABED / AFP)
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid enter the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing with Egypt on the second day of a truce between Israel and Hamas on November 25, 2023. (Mohammed ABED / AFP)

An Israeli official expresses “cautious optimism” that the second group of Israeli hostages will still be released tonight following a long delay.

The comment comes after an Egyptian report claiming that the disagreements have been bridged and the deal is expected to move ahead soon.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirms that he just held a “situational assessment” with all security chiefs “in order to ensure that the second phase of releases will go ahead as arranged.”

Family members of hostages who were slated to be released tonight waiting hours at hospital

Israeli soldiers wait for the arrival of released hostages at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, November 25, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers wait for the arrival of released hostages at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, November 25, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Several families of children who were expected to be freed by Hamas today began arriving at Soroka Medical Center from about 5 p.m., having been told by the Israeli authorities that they should do so in order to be reunited with their loved ones.

They are still there waiting, a Channel 12 reporter at the hospital reports.

The slated release of the second wave of hostages has been indefinitely delayed, as Israel holds its breath.

Netanyahu said consulting with security chiefs on crisis over the hostage deal

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center R) at the military headquarters during the release of a number of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, November 24, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center R) at the military headquarters during the release of a number of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, November 24, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly holding consultations by telephone with all of Israel’s security chiefs regarding how to proceed if Hamas does not release today’s group of hostages from Gaza by midnight, in accordance with the truce deal.

Among those on the call are Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, fellow war cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Mossad Chief David Barnea and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, several Hebrew media outlets say. There is no official confirmation.

Barnea is said to be updating the leadership on his contacts with the Qatari mediators, and Bar on his interaction with the Egyptians.

Both Egypt and Qatar are said to be trying to salvage the deal, according to a Ynet report, which cites unnamed Israeli sources saying they do not know if the crisis will be resolved.

At Tel Aviv rally, grandson of released hostage Yaffa Adar says she wanted to attend

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Alon Adar, grandson of Yaffa Adar, who was released from Gaza last night, takes the stage at the rally in Tel Aviv.

“We’re joyous with my savta [grandmother] home, but my cousin Tamir is still there,” says Alon. “Savta’s return gives hope that all will come back. But we know that we need to continue to fight this crazy thing, to come to the plaza and to tell the world the story behind each picture. Our families need you.”

Alon Adar says his 85-year-old grandmother wanted to come but the family thought it was a little too much just yet.

“She’s looking at us and proud of me and all of us.”

Roee Angrest from Kiryat Bialik, an elementary school student whose older brother, Sgt. Matan Angrest, is presumed held hostage in Gaza, cries out on stage for his big brother’s release.

Amid agonizing delay, friends and families of hostages stage rally in Tel Aviv

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Some 50,000 Israelis gather in Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square in front of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, behind the Defense Ministry, to mark “50 Days of Hell.”

“Returning hostages is the biggest mitzvah there is,” says singer Ehud Banai from the stage. “With Hanukkah coming, we’ll light many candles during this dark time. Our hearts are broken until we see all of them home.”

The crowd is full of people of all ages, including youth groups in the khaki and blue colors of Hashomer Hatzair, as well as people in black “Bring Them Home” T-shirts and dog tags with names of hostages.

Visiting Gaza, Gallant says IDF troops won’t leave Strip until every hostage returned

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks with troops in the northern Gaza Strip, November 25, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks with troops in the northern Gaza Strip, November 25, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says Israeli forces will not leave the Gaza Strip until all of the hostages are returned to Israel, and any future negotiations with Hamas will be carried out amid the fighting.

Gallant’s remarks were made as the minister toured the Gaza Strip this morning — for the first time since the start of the war — meeting with commanders and soldiers. Gallant entered the Strip via the sea with the head of the Navy, Vice Adm. David Sa’ar Salama.

“Our ability to bring the first group of hostages comes from the pressure exerted by the military. As soon as the military pressure is on, they want a break. When you increase the pressure, they want another break. When you increase even more, they are ready to come with an offer, and when you increase even more, and they are ready to come with an offer that can be accepted, that’s the whole method,” Gallant says.

“We cannot leave the operation and the war in Gaza until we reach a situation where we bring all the hostages [back], because we have many more,” he says.

Gallant says the ceasefire will be short. “Any further negotiations will be under fire. Meaning, if they want to continue discussing the next [deal], it will be while bombs fall and the forces are fighting, that’s the basis.”

Gallant’s office says he toured the northern Gaza coast, and was briefed by commanders on the forces’ operations during the fighting and their security during the ceasefire.

Nephew of released hostage says family won’t stop fighting until last captive freed

Adina Moshe (Courtesy)
Adina Moshe (Courtesy)

Amit Zach, the nephew of Adina Moshe, who was released last night from captivity in Gaza, says the family will continue to fight for every last hostage.

“We’re very happy and relieved that she’s with us,” says Zach in an interview with Channel 12 news, noting that he has yet to personally meet up with Moshe, who is still being kept in a hospital for observation. Zach asks for privacy for his aunt and her family.

“We thank everyone who fought and is still fighting with us until the last hostage is released,” says Zach. “We won’t stop our battle until the very last hostage is freed.”

Sister of released Thai hostage: ‘His face was very happy, he seemed OK’

The Thai citizens released from Hamas captivity are seen with Thai officials in Israel on November 25, 2023. (Courtesy)
The Thai citizens released from Hamas captivity are seen with Thai officials in Israel on November 25, 2023. (Courtesy)

Roongarun Wichanguen, the sister of 33-year-old Thai hostage Vetoon Phoome, expresses joy and disbelief that he is coming home. She says she thought he had been killed by Hamas.

On a video call, “his face was very happy, and he seemed okay,” she says, adding he told her he “was taken care of very well. It looks like he just stayed in a house, not the tunnel.”

Alongside 13 Israelis, 10 Thai and one Filipino national were also released from Gaza last night after 49 days in captivity.

IDF says it intercepted 2 objects near Eilat, but may have been false alarm

The Israel Defense Forces says interceptor missiles were fired at two “suspicious aerial targets” over the Red Sea near the southernmost city of Eilat a short while ago, in what may have been a false alarm.

“The possibility that this is a false identification is being investigated,” the IDF says.

There was no infiltration into Israeli airspace, and sirens were not activated in Eilat “according to protocol,” it adds.

Hamas official claims it is working to ‘solve the problems’ over hostage release delay

Hamas official Osama Hamdan (AP/Bilal Hussein)
Hamas official Osama Hamdan (AP/Bilal Hussein)

A senior Hamas official says there are ongoing efforts to “solve the problems” that led the Hamas terror group to announce a delay in the release of the hostages.

“There were violations yesterday and today it repeats itself,” Osama Hamdan claims in an interview with the pro-Hezbollah Al-Mayadeen network.

Hamdan is based in Lebanon though and it’s not clear how much clout he holds given that most of the terror group’s decisions since the outbreak of the war are believed made by its leaders in Gaza.

Qatar is still trying to solve the crisis and the Israel-Hamas truce deal hasn’t collapsed yet, despite the delay, the Walla news site reports, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Reports: Israel threatens to restart Gaza ground op if hostages not released by midnight

A picture taken from the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing shows ambulances lined up on the Egyptian side on November 24, 2023. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
A picture taken from the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing shows ambulances lined up on the Egyptian side on November 24, 2023. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

An Israeli official reportedly threatens that if the next batch of Israeli hostages are not released from Gaza by midnight, the IDF will “restart ground operations” in the Strip.

The official is cited in a number of Hebrew media outlets but there is no official confirmation.

The deal that was signed was for the release of at least 50 hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners and a four-day pause in fighting, as well as increased aid to Gaza. Hamas has accused Israel of violating the terms, which Israeli denies.

Israeli sources, in turn, have accused Hamas of breaching the terms with the list of hostages set for release today, including regarding the obligation to release mothers together with their children.

Regarding Hamas claims that Israel has not released Palestinian security prisoners in the order promised, Channel 12 cites an official source in Jerusalem denying any breach of the deal. “Just as Hamas decides who to release from its list [of hostages] in each stage, so we decide which Palestinian security prisoners to free [in return].”

The source also says humanitarian aid has been delivered as agreed, including to northern Gaza.

The second group of hostages were slated to be released at 4 p.m. but Hamas has so far not begun the process.

Report: Hanna Katzir only learned of husband’s death, son’s kidnapping after her release

Hanna Katzir (Courtesy)
Hanna Katzir (Courtesy)

Channel 12 reports that Hannah Katzir, 77, learned that her husband Rami was murdered and that her son Elad was abducted into Gaza on October 7 only after she was released from captivity.

The network says that they learned that the released hostages feared for their lives while they were being transferred by Hamas to the Red Cross yesterday in Gaza because as they drove to Khan Younis, onlookers hurled stones and other objects at their van.

Some of the hostages survived on only rice during their last two weeks of captivity after receiving sufficient food for the first month or so, Channel 12 says.

Released hostage says she heard on the radio while in Gaza that her son was killed

Ruti Munder after her release from Hamas captivity on November 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Ruti Munder after her release from Hamas captivity on November 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Ruti Munder, who was released yesterday from Hamas captivity after 49 days, says she learned that her son Roy was killed during Hamas’s October 7 massacre while listening to the radio.

The revelation offers some of the first details regarding the conditions in which some of the hostages have been held.

Footage the Munder family okayed for release to the press shows Ruti Munder, 78, hugging her family and saying that she’s okay but that she knows Roy was killed during the onslaught from listening to the radio, but she wasn’t sure how he was killed.

The footage also shows Keren Munder, Ruti’s daughter, who was also released yesterday, with her 9-year-old son, Ohad, ask about the fate of her father, 78-year-old Avraham Munder. Her family member confirms that Munder is being held in captivity, and Keren is seen replying: “so he wasn’t murdered.”

The footage reveals that not all family members taken hostage were held together in Gaza and did not necessarily know about the fate of each other.

Munder’s niece tells Ynet that the family had been agonizing over how they were going to share the news about Roy to Ruti, Keren and Ohad.

Israel slams UN’s women’s office for 50-day delay in commenting on Hamas sex crimes

The Foreign Ministry tears into the UN office for women’s issues for taking 50 days to comment on the evidence of sexual violence perpetrated during Hamas’s October 7 massacre only to issue a brief statement today expressing “alarm” on the matter.

“We met with Israeli women’s organizations & heard about the work of the Civil Commission for crimes against women and children,” UN Women tweets. “We remain alarmed by gender-based violence reports on 7 Oct & call for rigorous investigation, prioritizing the rights, needs and safety of those affected,” the UN office adds.

“For almost 50 days UN Women has been SILENT on the rape, murder and kidnapping of hundreds of Israeli women and girls. Seven weeks later and all they can muster is ‘alarm.’ Disgraceful,” the Foreign Ministry tweets.

National Council of Jewish Women CEO Sheila Katz adds that UN Women’s statement “fails to explicitly address the severity of the terrorist attack, including the brutal murder of over 1,200 people in Israel, torture, and rape of women, as well as the targeting of civilians and families, is equally reprehensible.”

“Immediate and unequivocal acknowledgment of these atrocities is imperative, given the blatant violation of international law,” she adds.

Hamas announces delay in release of second batch of hostages; had said it was underway

Israeli soldiers wait for the arrival of released hostages at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, November 25, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers wait for the arrival of released hostages at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, November 25, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Hamas’s military wing announces in a statement that it has decided to delay the release of the second batch of hostages, though a Hamas official shortly earlier told AFP that the release was already underway.

The military wing claims it is delaying the release “until the occupation adheres to the terms of the agreement related to the entry of aid trucks into the northern Gaza Strip and due to failure to adhere to the agreed-upon standards for releasing prisoners.”

However, Israel has allowed 200 trucks into the Strip, as required by the deal, and Israel’s COGAT military liaison to the Palestinians announced earlier that 50 of those trucks reached northern Gaza.

Earlier today, senior Hamas official Taher al-Nono told Al Jazeera that Israel also didn’t adhere to terms regarding the release of the Palestinian prisoners, which Hamas had pushed to be freed in a different order than what Israel carried out.

A Hamas source had told AFP a few minutes ago that the handover of second batch of hostages to Red Cross had begun.

“The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades have begun handing the second group of Israeli prisoners over to the Red Cross in [the southern city of] Khan Yunis. There are 14 of them,” the source said.

Reports of air defense activity over Eilat; no comment from IDF

A screenshot of social media video shows an interceptor missile over the Red Sea coastal city of Eilat, November 1, 2023. (Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A screenshot of social media video shows an interceptor missile over the Red Sea coastal city of Eilat, November 1, 2023. (Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

There are reports of air defense activity and explosions over Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat.

Footage posted to social media shows two interceptor missiles flying over the area.

No sirens sounded in Eilat, and the IDF has not yet commented on the incident.

The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have fired several ballistic missiles and drones at the city in recent weeks, all of which were intercepted or missed their target. An Iran-backed group in Syria also launched drones at Eilat, hitting a school earlier this month.

Hamas official accuses Israel of violating terms of hostage deal

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid enter the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, hours after the start of a four-day truce in battles between Israel and Palestinian Hamas terrorists, on November 24, 2023. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid enter the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, hours after the start of a four-day truce in battles between Israel and Palestinian Hamas terrorists, on November 24, 2023. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

A senior adviser to Hamas leader abroad Ismail Haniyeh claims Israel violated the terms of the temporary ceasefire in a statement made hours before an apparent delay in the release of the second batch of the hostages.

Taher al-Nono tells Al Jazeera that Israel did not comply with clauses regarding the entry of humanitarian aid trucks into Gaza, particularly regarding the distribution of aid in the northern Strip where the fighting has been most intense.

However, Israel has allowed 200 trucks into the Strip, as required by the deal, and Israel’s COGAT military liaison to the Palestinians announced earlier that 50 of those trucks reached northern Gaza.

Nono also claims that Israel also didn’t adhere to terms regarding the release of the Palestinian prisoners, which Hamas had pushed to be freed in a different order than what Israel carried out.

The Walla news site, citing an anonymous source familiar with the details of the negotiations, reports that Hamas claims that the order under which Israel was supposed to release the Palestinian prisoners was based on length of imprisonment, with those jailed the longest to be released first. However, this was not the order by which the prisoners were released by Israel on Thursday.

The senior Hamas official claims the IDF violated the deal by firing at Gazans who had been seeking to return to northern Gaza in what led to the deaths of two Palestinians. Israel asserts that a clause of the deal included one barring Palestinians from returning to northern Gaza where the IDF is still operating.

For its part, Hamas is going above and beyond the terms of the deal, Nono claims, pointing to the terror group’s release yesterday of 11 Thai and Filipino nationals, who were brutally taken hostage during the October 7 massacre. The release of those hostages is believe to have been agreed to in direct talks between Thailand and Iran, and they were not a part of the deal Israel agreed to with Qatar.

IDF chief: We will not halt war in Gaza until ‘we return all the hostages’

IDF chief Herzi Halevi speaking to soldiers on November 25, 2023. (IDF)
IDF chief Herzi Halevi speaking to soldiers on November 25, 2023. (IDF)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says the military will immediately return to striking in the Gaza Strip once the ceasefire with Hamas ends.

Halevi, speaking to soldiers, says the ceasefire and hostage deal would not have happened without the IDF’s pressure on Hamas.

“We do not intend, do not want, and are not ready to stop this effort before we return all the hostages… it is our moral duty to bring them back,” he says.

Halevi says the IDF will use the pause in fighting to “study, to better prepare our abilities and also to rest a little.”

“And we will return immediately at the end of the ceasefire to attacking Gaza, to maneuver in Gaza. We will do it to dismantle Hamas and also to create great pressure to return as quickly as possible and as many hostages as possible, down to the last one of them,” he says.

“We have an obligation to fight and also to risk our lives so that [Israeli citizens] can return to live in safety, and we have hostages that we will do everything to bring them home,” Halevi adds.

FM Cohen visits Thai nationals, Filipino freed from Gaza on Friday

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets with foreign nationals freed from Gaza, November 25, 2023 (Foreign Ministry)
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets with foreign nationals freed from Gaza, November 25, 2023 (Foreign Ministry)

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen visits the 11 Thai and Filipino hostages who were freed yesterday from Hamas captivity.

“The Israeli and foreign citizens had a common fate in the face of a cruel enemy on [October 7],” says Cohen in a statement.

The minister says Israel will continue working to free all hostages, including the over one dozen foreign workers who remain in captivity.

“I promised all of the foreign citizens released [yesterday] that they will receive the best medical and psychological care and we will see to it that they receive full rights from Bituach Leumi,” Cohen adds.

Senior official: Reports that Gaza fighting lull already extended are ‘ridiculous’ and ‘false’

A senior official involved in the indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas calls reports regarding the extension of the ongoing truce in Gaza “ridiculous” and “false.”

The official tells The Times of Israel that it’s highly unlikely any deal extending the temporary ceasefire beyond four days will be finalized more than a day or even hours ahead of time.

Slight delay in expected release of today’s group of Israeli hostages

There is a slight delay in the release of the second group of Israeli hostages who were kidnapped to the Gaza Strip on October 7. The process should have begun at 4 p.m.

An unnamed Israeli source quoted in some Hebrew media calls the delay “technical.”

There has been some back-and-forth negotiation over whether 13 or 14 Israelis will be released today, although it is unclear if that is a factor in the delay.

While Israel has said it is expecting 13 hostages, the Israel Prison Service has made preparations for the release of 42 Palestinian prisoners — under the terms of the agreement for a lull in fighting, three prisoners are released for every Israeli hostage.

Channel 12 says the process of the release could begin at 5 p.m. — and notes that yesterday’s release of 13 hostages was also drawn out.

“This is manipulation by [Hamas’s Gaza leader] Yahya Sinwar,” says former hostage negotiator Yaron Blum.

Yoni hugs his daughters tight, Ohad plays with Rubik’s Cube on IDF chopper: Images from Friday’s release of hostages

Yoni Asher embraces his daughters Raz and Aviv after their release from Hamas captivity on November 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Yoni Asher embraces his daughters Raz and Aviv after their release from Hamas captivity on November 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces releases new photos of the immediate aftermath of the release of the 13 Israeli hostages yesterday.

The images show a few of the emotional moments as the hostages returned to Israel, and were reunited with their families.

Ohad Munder, 9, on an IDF helicopter, unwraps a Rubik’s cube, on his return to Israel on November 254, 2023, after being taken hostage by Hamas on October 7. His mother Ruti is alongside him (IDF spokesman)
Danielle Aloni embraces her family after her release from Hamas captivity on November 24, 2023. (Courtesy)
Hostages released by Hamas embrace their family after their from captivity on November 24, 2023. (Courtesy)

Egyptian sources say lull could be extended by 1 or 2 days to enable release of more hostages – reports

The lull in fighting could be extended for a further one or two days to enable the release of more Israeli hostages held by terrorists in Gaza, Channel 12 news reports.

The Kan public broadcaster cites Egyptian sources who say that there are “positive signs” that the temporary ceasefire could be extended.

Around 50 Israeli hostages — children, their mothers and other women — are set to be freed over the four days, during which the IDF is halting its military campaign to destroy the Hamas terror group in Gaza. Three Palestinian security prisoners are to be freed in exchange for each hostage.

According to the agreement, the four-day truce can potentially be extended for one extra day for each group of 10 more hostages freed by Hamas.

Most of the Gaza hostages set to be freed today are from Kibbutz Be’eri – report

Kibbutz Be'eri after the Hamas massacres, pictured on October 14, 2023 (Arik Marmum / Flash 90)
Kibbutz Be'eri after the Hamas massacres, pictured on October 14, 2023 (Arik Marmum / Flash 90)

Most of the Israeli hostages held in Gaza who are set to be released today are from Kibbutz Be’eri, Channel 12 news reports.

The community was one of the hardest hit on October 7.

Thirteen Israelis are expected to be handed over by Hamas in a process that will begin at around 4 p.m.

Release of 13 more Israel hostages set to begin at 4 p.m.

The process for the release of the second group of Israeli hostages is set to begin at 4 p.m.

Thirteen hostages held in the Gaza Strip are expected to return to Israel, 50 days after they were kidnapped by terrorists on October 7.

Thirteen Israelis were released yesterday in the first stage of the agreement, in addition to 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino who were set free in a separate deal.

200 trucks of humanitarian aid enter Gaza, over 50 of them for the northern Strip

A man sits with empty canisters waiting for them to be filled with cooking gas from a tank that entered the Palestinian enclave via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 25, 2023 (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
A man sits with empty canisters waiting for them to be filled with cooking gas from a tank that entered the Palestinian enclave via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 25, 2023 (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

Two hundred trucks carrying humanitarian aid enter the Gaza Strip, with some of the supplies set to arrive in the northern part of the enclave for the first time since the start of the war.

Over fifty of the trucks are designated for the northern Gaza Strip, including to areas that have not been evacuated, with the approval of Israel, says the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

Ahead of launching its ground operation, the Israel Defense Forces told Palestinian civilians to use humanitarian corridors to evacuate southwards to designated safe areas in the enclave.

The aid is entering the Strip as part of the temporary truce between Israel and the Hamas terror group, mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

As part of the agreement, some 50 children and women held hostage in Gaza are being released, along with three Palestinian prisoners for every Israeli set free.

COGAT: 4 fuel tankers, 4 cooking gas tankers entered Gaza Strip from Egypt

People sit with empty canisters waiting for them to be filled with cooking gas from a tank that entered the Palestinian enclave via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 25, 2023 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
People sit with empty canisters waiting for them to be filled with cooking gas from a tank that entered the Palestinian enclave via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 25, 2023 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

COGAT, the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, says four tankers of fuel and four tankers of cooking gas entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt today.

“The fuel and cooking gas are designated for operating essential humanitarian infrastructure in Gaza,” the Defense Ministry body tweets.

The aid is entering the enclave as part of an agreement for a lull in fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror group.

Some 50 Israeli hostages — children, their mothers and other women — are set to be freed over the four days of the temporary truce, during which the IDF is pausing its military campaign to destroy the Hamas terror group in Gaza, with three Palestinian security prisoners to be freed in exchange for each hostage.

13 Israeli hostages held in Gaza expected to be released today — reports

An Israeli military helicopter with released Israeli hostages arrives at the Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva, November 24, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
An Israeli military helicopter with released Israeli hostages arrives at the Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva, November 24, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

While some foreign media reports have suggested that 14 Israeli hostages held in Gaza could be released today, Israeli networks say that 13 people will be set free.

Some 50 hostages — children, their mothers and other women — are set to be freed over the next four days, during which the IDF is halting its military campaign to destroy the Hamas terror group in Gaza, with three Palestinian security prisoners to be freed in exchange for each hostage.

The four-day truce can potentially be extended for one extra day for each group of 10 more hostages freed by Hamas.

Thirteen Israelis were freed yesterday in the first stage of the agreement, with 10 Thai nationals and a Filipino released in a separate agreement.

US ambassador to Israel: ‘We won’t rest until everyone comes home’

Jack Lew, US President Joe Biden's nominee to be the US ambassador to Israel, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill October 18, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
Jack Lew, US President Joe Biden's nominee to be the US ambassador to Israel, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill October 18, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

The US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew welcomes the release of hostages yesterday.

“Relieved hostages are reuniting with their loved ones. We won’t rest until everyone comes home,” Lew writes on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Earlier this month, the US Senate voted to confirm the nomination of the former treasury secretary to become the envoy to Israel in a process that was fast-tracked due to the war.

‘Your dream came true, we’re going home’: Yoni Asher is reunited with wife Doron, daughters Raz, 4, and Aviv, 2

Doron Asher and her two young daughters Raz, 5, and Aviv, 2, are reunited with husband and father Yoni, on November 25, 2023. (Schneider Children's Hospital)
Doron Asher and her two young daughters Raz, 5, and Aviv, 2, are reunited with husband and father Yoni, on November 25, 2023. (Schneider Children's Hospital)

Images and video are released showing Doron Asher and her two young daughters Raz, 4, and Aviv, 2, reunited with husband and father, Yoni.

In the video, released by the Schneider Children’s Hospital with the permission of the family and at their request, Yoni can be seen tightly holding his wife and children.

“Did you miss me? Did you think about daddy?” he asks the girls.

Raz tells her father that she dreamed about going home.

“Your dream came true,” Yoni says. “Soon we are going home. We are just here for the doctors to check you, and then we’re going home.”

Doron, Raz and Aviv were taken by terrorists on October 7 from the sealed room of Doron’s mother’s house in Kibbutz Nir Oz, near Gaza.

Doron’s mother, Efrat Katz, was killed in the shock assault, when terrorists invaded Israel and rampaged through communities and an outdoor music festival for hours, killing 1,200 people. Terrorists also took about 240 hostages.

Asher became a prominent figure in the organization that represents the families of the hostages.

Doron Asher and her two young daughters Raz, 5, and Aviv, 2, are reunited with husband and father, Yoni on November 25, 2023. (Schneider Children’s Hospital)

IDF: Defenses intercepted ‘suspicious aerial target’ that entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces says air defenses intercepted a “suspicious aerial target” that entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon a short while ago.

The incident set off sirens in several communities in the Western Galilee.

Earlier this morning, a similar incident occurred in the Upper Galilee, with the IDF saying sirens sounded due to an interceptor missile being fired at a target over the area.

Rocket sirens sound in northern towns near Lebanon border

Sirens signaling incoming rocket fire sound in Eilon, Ya’ara and Avdon in northern Israel, near the Lebanese border.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

This morning sirens sounded in a number of northern communities — the Israel Defense Forces later said they were triggered by an interceptor missile, fired at an aerial target suspected to be a possible drone launched from Lebanon.

Watch: 9-year-old Ohad Munder, freed from Gaza, is reunited with father for 1st time

Ohad Munder is reunited with his father and brother after his release from Gaza, November 25, 2023. (Schneider Children's Hospital)
Ohad Munder is reunited with his father and brother after his release from Gaza, November 25, 2023. (Schneider Children's Hospital)

Ohad Munder, 9, is reunited with his father for the first time since he was released from the Gaza Strip yesterday.

In video released by the Schneider Medical Center, at the family’s request and with their permission, the child runs along a corridor and is swept up in his father’s arms.

Ohad was freed yesterday along with his 55-year-old mother Keren Munder, and his grandmother Ruti Munder, 78. Ruti’s husband Avraham Munder remains in Gaza.

Ohad turned nine while held in Gaza, and events were held across Israel to mark the day.

A keen solver of Rubik’s cubes, supporters created his portrait out of the puzzle while campaigning for his release. Images circulating on social media showed him solving a cube in hospital, watched by soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces.

5-year-old Emilia, held in Gaza for 49 days, hugs her grandma in emotional reunion

Emilia Alony, 5, is reunited with her grandmother after she was held hostage in Gaza, November 25, 2023. (Schneider Children's Hospital)
Emilia Alony, 5, is reunited with her grandmother after she was held hostage in Gaza, November 25, 2023. (Schneider Children's Hospital)

Emilia Alony, 5, who was released with her mother Danielle yesterday as part of a temporary cease-fire deal between Hamas and Israel, is reunited with her grandma.

Danielle and Emilia were held hostage in the Gaza Strip for 49 days.

In photos released by the Schneider Children’s Hospital, Emilia can be seen in a tight embrace with her grandmother.

The two were visiting Danielle’s sister and her family at Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7 when they were kidnapped during the onslaught by the Hamas terror group.

Sharon Alony Cunio, 33, and her husband David Cunio, 34, and their twin three-year-old daughters, Yuli and Emma, are still held hostage in Gaza.

Danielle Alony and daughter Emilia, 5, are reunited with family after their release from Gaza, November 25, 2023. (Schneider Children’s Hospital)

Qatari jet arrives in Israel amid Gaza hostage agreement

In a rare move, a Qatari private jet has landed at Ben Gurion Airport, Hebrew-language media reports.

The flight arrived from Larnaca in Cyprus, the Kan public broadcaster says.

Qatar, which has close ties to Hamas, has played a key role — along with Egypt — in mediating the temporary lull in fighting between Israel and the terror group, in an agreement that has seen the release of hostages held in Gaza since the devastating October 7 assault.

14 Israeli hostages expected to be released today, official says

A man and a child walk past portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the Oct. 7 onslaught by Hamas, in Tel Aviv on November 21, 2023, amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
A man and a child walk past portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the Oct. 7 onslaught by Hamas, in Tel Aviv on November 21, 2023, amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

It is expected that 14 Israelis will be released later today, an Israeli official source told the BBC and the AFP news agency.

Earlier, the Israel Prison Service said that 42 Palestinian prisoners are to be released — as part of the agreement between Israel and the Hamas terror group, three prisoners are to be freed for each Israeli let go.

Today is the second day of the lull in fighting that is also part of the deal — yesterday 13 Israeli hostages held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip were released, along with 10 Thai nationals and a Filipino who were set free in a separate agreement.

Some 50 hostages — children, their mothers and other women — are set to be freed over the four days, during which the IDF is pausing its military campaign to destroy Hamas in Gaza.

The four-day truce can potentially be extended for one extra day for each group of 10 more hostages freed by Hamas.

Israel Prison Service says it received list of 42 Palestinians to be released today

An Israeli prison transport vehicle carries Palestinian prisoners released by the Israeli authorities from Ofer military prison near Jerusalem on Nov. 24, 2023 as part of a deal in which the Hamas terror group released 13 hostages held in Gaza. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
An Israeli prison transport vehicle carries Palestinian prisoners released by the Israeli authorities from Ofer military prison near Jerusalem on Nov. 24, 2023 as part of a deal in which the Hamas terror group released 13 hostages held in Gaza. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The Israel Prison Service says it has received a list of 42 Palestinian terror convicts who will be released today as part of the deal with Hamas that will also see a group of hostages released from Gaza later today.

This is the second day out of four in which such exchanges are expected to be held, with additional days of ceasefire possible if Hamas agrees to release more hostages.

The Prison Service says the prisoners will be moved to Ofer Prison in the West Bank for medical checks by the International Red Cross, ahead of their release to the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

They will go free only after the group of Israeli hostages is released and properly identified.

‘Grandma is here, healthy and beautiful. Thank you people of Israel’: Yaffa Adar reunites with family

Yaffa Adar reunites with a family member after she was released from Gaza, November 24, 2023. (Facebook, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Yaffa Adar reunites with a family member after she was released from Gaza, November 24, 2023. (Facebook, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The family of Yaffa Adar, 85, who was freed yesterday after 49 days held hostage in Gaza, post photos of her reunion with family members.

“Grandma is here, healthy and beautiful. Thank you people of Israel,” writes Adriana Adar.

“Thank you to everyone who supported us. It’s the first drop in the sea, we are waiting for you Tamir Adar, waiting for everyone! All of them! Right now, right now!!” she writes.

Yaffa’s grandson Tamir was also taken hostage to Gaza on October 7, but was not released.

Yaffa was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz. Video surfaced of Adar being driven in a golf cart in Gaza, wrapped in a pink-flowered blanket and looking stoic — in an image that became one of the symbols of the October 7 catastrophe, the terrorists’ readiness to harm anyone regardless of age and the courage of the victims.

Israeli-owned ship attacked by Iranian drone in Indian Ocean, US defense official says; no injuries

A Shahed-136 drone is seen in the sky seconds before it hit buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A Shahed-136 drone is seen in the sky seconds before it hit buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

A container ship owned by an Israeli billionaire came under attack by a suspected Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean as Israel wages war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an American defense official says.

The attack Friday on the CMA CGM Symi comes as global shipping increasingly finds itself targeted in the weekslong war that threatens to become a wider regional conflict — even as a truce has halted fighting and Hamas exchanges hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

The defense official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, says the Malta-flagged vessel was suspected to have been targeted by a triangle-shaped, bomb-carrying Shahed-136 drone while in international waters.

The drone exploded, causing damage to the ship but not injuring any of its crew.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely,” the official says. The official declines to explain why the US military believed Iran was behind the attack.

CMA CGM, a major shipper based in Marseille, France, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the vessel’s crew had been behaving as though they believed the ship faced a threat.

The ship had its Automatic Identification System tracker switched off since Tuesday when it left Dubai’s Jebel Ali port, according to data from MarineTraffic.com analyzed by the AP. Ships are supposed to keep their AIS active for safety reasons, but crews will turn them off if it appears they might be targeted. It had done the same earlier when traveling through the Red Sea past Yemen, home to the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

‘Mom’s back!’: Son of Margalit Moses, 78, posts picture of reunion after her release from Gaza

Margalit Moses with family members after she was released from Gaza, November 24, 2023. (Facebook, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Margalit Moses with family members after she was released from Gaza, November 24, 2023. (Facebook, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Yair Moses, the son of 78-year-old Margalit who was freed from Gaza yesterday, posts a family photo with the simple caption “mom’s back!”

Moses was in her Kibbutz Nir Oz home on the morning of October 7 when Hamas rampaged through the village, murdering and kidnapping its residents.

Moses and her close neighbor and ex-husband Gadi Moses were both taken to Gaza, where Gadi presumably remains.

Thailand ‘anxiously awaiting return’ of some 20 more hostages

The Thai citizens released from Hamas captivity are seen with Thai officials in Israel on November 25, 2023. (Courtesy)
The Thai citizens released from Hamas captivity are seen with Thai officials in Israel on November 25, 2023. (Courtesy)

Thailand’s deputy ambassador to Israel welcomes the release of 10 nationals from Gaza yesterday, but stresses that more are still held captive by Hamas.

“They’re all in good condition, they’re being treated,” he tells Ynet. “Once they are ready physically and mentally, we’ll bring them home.”

“We are anxiously awaiting the return of our other citizens,” he says. Thailand believes 20 more people are held hostage.

Those freed on Friday have been named as Natthawaree Moonkan, Santi Boonphrom, Boonthom Phankhong, Mongkhol Phajuabboon, Withoon Phumee, Wichai Kalapat, Bancha Kongmanee, Buddee Saengboon, Uthai Thunsri and Uthai Sangnuan.

Petah Tikva hospital says 8 freed kids and women in its care in good condition

Schneider Medical Center in Petah Tikva offers its own update on the four children and four women it is treating after their release from Hamas captivity.

The hospital says the eight are “in good condition.”

“They are with their families in a separate area prepared for them, enveloped by medical, social and psychological teams.”

Holon hospital says 5 freed hostages it is treating are ‘stable, embraced by families’

Wolfson Medical Center in Holon offers an update that “the five [released hostages] who arrived yesterday are stable. Each is being treated according to their condition based on an examination yesterday.”

The hospital adds that the five “are being embraced by their families.”

Siren caused by interceptor launched at suspicious aerial target

The military updates that the siren was caused by an interceptor missile, fired at an aerial target suspected to be a possible drone launched from Lebanon.

IDF says sirens in north activated by suspected drone infiltration, ‘incident over’

The IDF’s Home Front Command says sirens in the north were activated over fears of a drone infiltration.

It says “the incident is over,” without providing details.

Sirens sound in Israel’s Upper Galilee region near Lebanon border

Sirens warning of incoming projectiles are sounding in northern Israel, in the Upper Galilee area near the Lebanese border.

The alerts are triggered in the communities of Yiftah and Mevo’ot Hermon.

It is not clear if missiles or rockets from Lebanon triggered the sirens, but they came after Israel said it downed a surface-to-air guided missile fired from Lebanese territory a short time ago and responded to the attack by targeting Hezbollah sites.

Israel prepares to receive second group of hostages slated for release later Saturday

Following a day of mixed emotions as 13 Israeli hostages — mothers and their young kids, and elderly women — were freed by Hamas in Gaza after 49 days, Israelis are bracing for the release of the second group of 13 hostages set for later Saturday.

The expected release will come on the second day of the lull in fighting as part of a hostage deal that went into effect Friday at 7 a.m. The temporary truce deal between Israel and Hamas includes a four-day pause in the war, the first in seven weeks since Hamas’s October 7 atrocities, and the release of a total of about 50 Israeli hostages in groups of roughly a dozen per day day.

The four-day truce can potentially be extended for one extra day for each group of 10 more hostages freed by Hamas.

As part of a separate deal, 11 foreign nationals — 10 Thais and one Filipino — were released by Hamas on Friday after being abducted on October 7.

On Friday night, Israel received the list of hostages who are slated to be released Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

After reviewing the list, Israeli security officials notified the hostages’ families, the PMO said.

Israeli authorities had notified both the families of the hostages being released Friday as well as those who were not on the first list.

Channel 12 reported that the latest list of hostages set for release Saturday has 13 names and includes more children.

Only four of the 13 Israelis released Friday were children. Hamas and other terror factions abducted some 240 people on October 7, including about 40 children.

Netanyahu’s office has urged the media to act with caution and avoid publicizing the names of those on the list before they are back in Israel.

Philippines president says additional national may be among hostages in Gaza

The Philippines’ president, Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., says he is “overjoyed to confirm” that a Filipino, Gelienor “Jimmy” Pacheco, was among the group of 11 foreign nationals to be released as Hamas hostages in Gaza on Friday, in a deal negotiated by Bangkok with Iran, Qatar, and Egypt.

Ten Thai nationals were also released as part of the deal. In addition, 13 Israeli hostages were released from Gaza as part of a four-day temporary truce agreement to pause fighting in the Palestinian enclave and free an overall 50 Israeli hostages over the course of the four days.

Marcos Jr. says Pacheco was “now safely in the custody of officials in our Israel embassy,” and thanked “the work of the Philippine Foreign Service in securing his release,” and Qatar “for their invaluable assistance.”

He says the Philippines remains “concerned over the whereabouts of our other national, Ms. Noralyn Babadilla, and are sparing no effort to locate and secure her if she is indeed found to be one of the hostages.”

“We pray for the continued success of the truce and for all hostages to be released,” he says.

IDF shoots down guided missile fired from Lebanon; northern resident hear loud explosions

The military says aerial defenses shot down a surface-to-air guided missile fired from Lebanon at an unmanned military aerial vehicle (UAV), and responded to the attack by targeting Hezbollah terror sites.

Residents in northern Israel reported hearing loud explosions amid the attacks.

The UAV was not damaged and “carried on with its mission,” says the Israel Defense Forces in an early morning announcement. The missile did not cross into Israeli airspace, according to the statement.

The IDF says there was also an aerial interception during the military response, without elaborating.

Thailand says 20 nationals still held by Hamas in Gaza

In this photo provided by Thailand's Foreign Ministry, ten of the freed Thai hostages and an officer, fourth from left, pose for a photo at the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh) in Israel Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Thailand's Foreign Ministry via AP )
In this photo provided by Thailand's Foreign Ministry, ten of the freed Thai hostages and an officer, fourth from left, pose for a photo at the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh) in Israel Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Thailand's Foreign Ministry via AP )

At least 20 Thai nationals are still being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Thailand’s foreign ministry says, hours after the terror group freed 10 Thais and one national from the Philippines who were abducted from Israel on October 7. On that Saturday morning, thousands of terrorists massacred 1,200 people, a majority civilians, including at least 30 Thais, during a killing rampage that lasted hours.

The 10 Thais freed on Friday, including the only woman, Nathavaree Mulkan, are expected to return home to Thailand after 48 hours in hospital, the ministry says in a statement cited by Reuters.

Parents of sons held hostage in Gaza oppose deal, urge military action for release

Keren Gonen wears a T-shirt with a picture of her sister Romi on November 24 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)
Keren Gonen wears a T-shirt with a picture of her sister Romi on November 24 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)

Several relatives of Israelis who are presumed to be held hostage in Gaza question the deal to release 50 Israeli hostages for some 150 Palestinian prisoners, an agreement that began to be implemented Friday with the release of the first 13 Israeli hostages.

“The most correct and effective way of retrieving the hostages is by applying uncompromising pressure on Hamas, until the hostages become a liability for Hamas instead of an asset,” says a spokesperson of Tikvah, a new forum for families of hostages that oppose making hostage deals with Hamas.

Forum founder Eliyahu Libman heads the municipality of the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron. His son Elyakim is believed to be held hostage following the October 7 atrocities. “We’re glad about the return of each and every hostage,” his forum tells The Times of Israel in reply to a request to interview Libman.

A forum spokesperson says the forum members has decided to stop giving interviews on the subject.

Hamas, which is believed to have abducted 240 hostages from Israel released on Friday 13 hostages out of 50 included in an exchange deal that Qatar helped mediate. Israel is expected to release a total of 150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the hostages. The deal is expected to happen in several stages over the course of a lull in fighting of at least four days.

Another parent from the Tikvah forum, Zvika Mor, also opposes the deal. “Our eagerness to receive the hostages raises their price,” Mor, whose son is believed to be in Gaza, tells Channel 14.

Keren Gonen, whose sister Romi is thought to be held hostage, dismisses these considerations.

“I don’t care about anything. It doesn’t matter. Nothing else matters,” she tells The Times of Israel at a solidarity rally in Tel Aviv with the hostages and their families. “Nothing else should matter. This [getting the hostages back] is the only thing that should matter.”

Most Israeli hostages freed Friday appear in good physical health, says hospital

Israeli hostages released on November 24, 2023: Top from L-R: Adina Moshe, Margalit Moses, Danielle Aloni and her daughter Emilia; middle: Doron Asher and her daughters Raz and Aviv, Hannah Katzir; bottom row: Keren Munder and her son Ohad, Ruti Munder, Yaffa Adar and Channah Peri. (Photos: Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)
Israeli hostages released on November 24, 2023: Top from L-R: Adina Moshe, Margalit Moses, Danielle Aloni and her daughter Emilia; middle: Doron Asher and her daughters Raz and Aviv, Hannah Katzir; bottom row: Keren Munder and her son Ohad, Ruti Munder, Yaffa Adar and Channah Peri. (Photos: Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)

Most of the Israeli hostages released by Hamas today appeared to be in good physical health upon return to Israel, the hospital receiving them says.

A statement from Schneider Children’s hospital, where four mothers and four child hostages were released, says that doctors had conducted a preliminary examination and said they were all in good physical condition.

A total of 13 Israeli hostages were freed Friday and transferred to three separate hospitals across Israel.

Danielle Aloni, her daughter Emilia Aloni, Doron Asher, and her daughters Raz Asher and Aviv Asher, and Keren Munder, her mother Ruti Munder and her son Ohad Munder were being treated Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva. Five other Israeli hostages, all elderly women, are being cared for at Wolfson Hospital in Holon.

Wolfson says some of the women are “feeble and exhausted” and are not likely to be allowed to go home tomorrow, Ynet reports.

Israel working with Thailand, Philippines to reunite freed foreign nationals with families

The 11 foreign nationals — 10 from Thailand and 1 from the Philippines — who were freed as hostages by Hamas in Gaza today are expected to remain in the hospital overnight in Israel as medical authorities complete their health examinations, the Foreign Ministry says.

The ministry says workers are “in regular contact with the embassies of Thailand and the Philippines,” following the release of the hostages, and notice was given to their families.

The ministry says the foreign nationals “are expected to return to their families after almost 50 days in Hamas captivity.”

Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara wrote online that he was “overjoyed.”

Thailand had secured an agreement via Iran, Hamas’s backers, for the release of their citizens.

Thais were the biggest single group of foreigners taken hostage. Thai and Filipino nationals often travel to Israel to work as farmhands, caregivers or other types of skilled laborer, at wages considerably higher than those at they can earn at home.

Yoni Asher, whose family was freed from Hamas: I am happy but won’t celebrate until all hostages return

Doron (left), Raz and Aviv and Yoni Asher; Doron, Raz and Aviv were taken hostage by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 and freed on November 24, 2023 (courtesy)
Doron (left), Raz and Aviv and Yoni Asher; Doron, Raz and Aviv were taken hostage by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 and freed on November 24, 2023 (courtesy)

Yoni Asher, whose wife and two young daughters were released today after being held as hostages by Hamas terrorists in Gaza for 49 days, releases a short video about their safe return.

Asher’s wife, Doron, and their two young daughters Raz, 5, and Aviv, 2, were taken on October 7 from the sealed room of Doron’s mother’s house in Kibbutz Nir Oz, near Gaza. Doron’s mother, Efrat Katz, was killed in the shock assault, when terrorists invaded Israel and rampaged through communities and an outdoor music festival for hours, killing 1,200 people. Terrorists also took about 240 hostages.

Asher became a prominent figure in the organization that represents the families of the hostages.

Asher’s family were released Friday afternoon as part of a multi-day lull in fighting in Gaza that includes the release of at least 50 Israeli hostages overall. The first group of 13 hostages included the mother and daughters, as well as two other mothers and their young children, and elderly women. A separate deal between Thailand and Iran also saw the release of 11 Thai nationals and one Philippines national.

“My family Doron Raz and Aviv returned home to me…. I am determined to help my family recover from the terrible trauma and loss we went through, for the future of the girls and Doron,” he says.

“Complex days are still ahead of me. I must express thanks and appreciation to our brave sons risking their lives protecting the nation, to the IDF, the Israeli government, and the war cabinet and all those who are engaged in the work. Thanks to the wonderful people of Israel, for the thousands of messages and reinforcements. A big thank you to the families of the hostages who are working to get everyone back,” he says.

Asher also gives a special thanks to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, made up of “private people who left everything — families, careers — and gave all their time, energy, blood, and soul for the goal of rescuing my family.”

“I am happy that I got my family back…But I don’t celebrate, I won’t celebrate until the last of the hostages returns. I want to emphasize — our children, our fathers, our mothers, our sisters — are at this time in captivity, there are people whose hearts are broken at this time and I want to make sure that every last hostage person will return home,” he adds.

Uncertain about their own loved ones, families rejoice in 13 other hostages’ release

Jimmy Miller attends a solidarity rally for the release of hostages on November 24, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)
Jimmy Miller attends a solidarity rally for the release of hostages on November 24, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)

Friday has been the happiest day in a long time for the family of Shiri Bibas, a mother of two boys younger than 4 whom Hamas terrorists abducted on October 7.

Bibas remains a hostage. She is not among the 13 Israelis released from Gaza, and authorities have given her family no estimated time for her release.

Her relatives are uplifted by the release of 13 other hostages, all of them women or children. It “fills our hearts with joy that we haven’t felt since this started,” Shiri Bibas’s cousin, Jimmy Miller, tells The Times of Israel.

Shiri Bibas’s abduction is iconic. Videos of her capture show terrorists leading a terrified Bibas around in Kibbutz Nir Oz while she held her two ginger sons, Ariel and Kfir.

A total of 50 Israelis are to be freed in return for 150 Palestinian prisoners during a 4-day ceasefire that began Friday. Bibas’s family hopes that she, her sons and her husband Yarden are among the remaining 37 Israelis who are to be part of the remainder of the exchange.

Several relatives of hostages understood to be among the remaining 37 Israelis said that authorities have not yet informed them on whether their loved ones are to be released in future exchange, Channel 12 reports Friday.

Miller and several other relatives are attending a solidarity rally with the hostages at Tel Aviv’s so-called Hostage Square, opposite the Kirya army headquarters. They’re wearing T-shirts emblazoned with a drawing of the Bibas family.

Armed Palestinian groups in W. Bank reportedly execute two men accused of spying for Israel

Members of Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank city of Tulkarem have reportedly executed two men accused of spying for Israel.

Pictures on social media show the bodies of the two men hanging from an electricity pole.

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