Live updates | Hamas frees 10 Israeli women and children, 4 Thai nationals

Live updates | Hamas frees 10 Israeli women and children, 4 Thai nationals

A group of 10 Israeli women and children and four Thai nationals have been handed over by Hamas to the Red Cross late Wednesday, the Israeli military said. The release was expected to be followed by Israel freeing 30 Palestinian prisoners. Two Russian-Israeli women were also freed in a separate release earlier Wednesday evening and have arrived back in Israel.

International mediators are working to extend a cease-fire that’s just a few hours from expiring. Israel has agreed to extend the truce by one day for every 10 militant-held hostages who are freed. The cease-fire, which was originally set to expire on Monday, has paused the deadliest fighting between Israel and Palestinians in decades.

However, Israel has vowed to resume the war in an effort to end Hamas‘ 16-year rule of Gaza, but it’s facing mounting international pressure to extend the truce and spare southern Gaza a devastating ground offensive like the one that has demolished much of the north.

Hamas‘ ability to negotiate and implement the cease-fire suggests that Israel‘s air and ground campaigns have not seriously challenged the group’s control of Gaza, despite killing thousands of Palestinians and driving three out of four people in the territory from their homes.

Roughly 240 hostages were captured by Hamas in its Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel that ignited the war. More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, according to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza. About 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, mostly during the initial incursion by Hamas.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops killed two Palestinian boys – an 8-year-old and a 15-year-old – during a raid in the town of Jenin, Palestinian health officials said. Israel has killed more than 230 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the war began, including 63 children, according to the U.N. humanitarian agency.


– Mediators seek to extend the truce as Hamas‘ rule shows resilience.

– Israel compares Hamas to the Islamic State group. But the comparison misses the mark in key ways.

– Blinken urges cease-fire extension, discussions about Gaza’s future.

– The family of an infant hostage pleads for his release as truce winds down.

– Freed Israeli hostage describes deteriorating conditions while being held by Hamas.

– Find more of AP’s coverage at

Here’s what’s happening in the war:

Twenty-one aid trucks were able to reach northern Gaza, which has been the focus of Israel’s ground offensive, on Wednesday, the Palestinian Red Crescent relief group said.

During the six-day pause in fighting, the aid group said 254 aid trucks’ worth of food had been successfully distributed, including food, water, baby formula and blankets. The post on X, formerly Twitter, showed video of trucks hauling palates of supplies and a forklift unloading boxes.

In the north, civilians have described entire residential blocks leveled to the ground in Gaza City and surrounding areas.

Two Russian-Israeli women who were held captive by Hamas have been freed and are back in Israel, the military said.

Hamas published video footage on Wednesday of the women being handed over to two Red Cross workers in southern Gaza.

In the video, the mother and daughters are escorted to the doors of the Red Cross jeep by at least four gun-bearing al-Qassem Brigade fighters as dozens of Palestinian boys and men watch, many filming the event on their phones

The mother briefly stumbled after exiting the vehicle before being righted by the militant at her side.

KFAR AZZA, Israel – Religious leaders donned bullet-proof vests and helmets on Wednesday as they gathered in the Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Azza to pray for peace.

Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze clerics stood in a semicircle to read out a joint statement calling for peace and sang prayers surrounded by the destruction unleashed by Hamas militants on October 7 when they launched a cross-border attack on Israel.

“We all prayed for peace. We all prayed for the return of the captives,” said rabbi Eliezer Weiss, member of the Chief Rabbinate Council. “We all prayed for the end of war. No more war. Only peace.

The kibbutz still bears the marks of the violence: charred houses, shrapnel holes and bullet casings.

Kfar Azza – one of more than 20 towns and villages attacked by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 – was one of the most hard-hit places.

“It’s shocking to be here. And what’s shocking is to see how our humanity could become a machine of killing,” said Yousef Yakoub, the leader of Haifa’s Maronite Christian community.

The interfaith gathering was organized by Israel’s Interior Ministry to show solidarity among the different denominations in the country.

“We have come here in sympathy for our brothers who lost their lives here,” said Imam Mansour Jabber, Druze cleric from Mt. Carmel.

“The taking of children, the taking of women, that is against every sacred code and regulation all over the world.”

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took part in a ceremony to break ground for a new town near Israel’s border with Gaza that will be named after a local leader killed in the Oct. 7 attack.

The town will be called Ofir after Ofir Libstein, former head of the Sha’ar HaNegev Council, who was killed by Hamas militants along with his 19-year-old son Nitzan.

They were both killed in the battle for Kfar Azza, a kibbutz about three kilometers (two miles) from the border with Gaza, which was extensively damaged and saw dozens killed in the Hamas attack. Kfar Azza was one of several Israeli communities near Gaza that suffered heavy damage on Oct. 7.

Since then, the surviving residents of Kfar Azza and surrounding towns in Israel been evacuated to hotels across the country. The future of their communities remains in limbo.

In the Wednesday ceremony, Netanyahu vowed to rebuild the destroyed towns alongside new ones.

The Israeli government decided in February – long before the war – on constructing a new Israeli community near Gaza. But Wednesday, its name was formally changed to Ofir.

“We are continuing to build – not one town – we will build towns, here in this place. We build, and we will continue to build, here and every place in Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The Israeli military says Hamas has begun releasing 12 hostages from captivity in the Gaza Strip.

The army said the first two hostages were transferred to Egypt late Wednesday. Ten others were expected to soon be freed.

It was the sixth release of Israeli hostages under a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Israel was to free some 30 Palestinian prisoners later Wednesday.

The cease-fire is set to expire early Thursday. International mediators were working to extend the truce by several days to allow further releases of hostages.

Hamas captured some 240 hostages in the Oct. 7 cross-border attack that triggered the war. After the latest releases, roughly 150 hostages are believed to remain in captivity.

JERUSALEM – Two Palestinian boys, including an 8-year-old, were killed by Israeli fire Wednesday during a military raid in the West Bank town of Jenin, Palestinian health officials said. Two militants were also killed, the Israeli army said.

The circumstances of the boys’ shooting were unclear.  » …
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