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  • Israel-Gaza Four children, six elderly women... These are the 13 Israeli hostages

Following mutual accusations of violations of the agreement that put the truce on the line, Israel and the fundamentalist group Hamas were set to carry out the second round of the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners late in the evening. U.S. President Joe Biden's personal intervention with Qatar and Egypt saved a very fragile pact.

While Gazans lived a second day without bombs waiting for the four-day ceasefire to be extended as the queue did yesterday to receive gas cylinders, Israel once again experienced strong sensations at the return of part of those kidnapped in the Hamas attacks on October 7.

In the morning, Israelis saw Ohad Munder (9) running into the arms of his father Avi or the elderly Yafa Adar (85) surrounded by her family after being surrounded by militants for 49 days and being released on Friday night in the first group of 13 people. In the evening, they were to receive 13 other children and women and made cabals about the new list knowing that about 200 will remain in the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The ceasefire includes the release of Palestinian prisoners – 38 other teenagers and women were arrested on Saturday – and increased humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. At the same time, Hamas has released 18 foreigners kidnapped while working in southern Israel.

The return of eight children and five women was expected on Saturday night at a hotel on the Dead Sea where displaced people from Kibbutz Beeri have been staying for 50 days. The hostages freed on Friday were to see him from the two hospitals where they were treated with medical tests that confirmed that, at least from a physical point of view, they are fine.

"I'm very happy to have my wife Doron and my two daughters Raz (4) and Aviv (2) here again, but we didn't celebrate because there are many who stayed there. We are all one family and I will continue to fight for everyone to come back," Yoni Asher proclaimed after being reunited for the first time with his family kidnapped on Kibbutz Nir Oz. Adar, one of the founders of this agricultural group, returned unaware that she can no longer return to her razed kibbutz or that many of her neighbors were kidnapped, including her grandson Tamir, and others killed. Hanna Katzir (76) also did not know that her husband was murdered and her son was apparently kidnapped. From their first comments, it is clear that they were in a tunnel. The belief is that most of the abductees are in the southern Gaza Strip. That is, far from the soldiers massively deployed in the north.


Released Palestinian youths and women celebrated with flags of Fatah and especially Hamas, confirming Israel's fear, silently shared by Abu Mazen's Palestinian National Authority (PNA), that the current crisis has increased the popularity of the fundamentalist group in the West Bank. A recent poll a week ago confirmed support for Hamas, including its 7-0 attack.

In the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has been in control since 2007, residents can watch and film the massive damage caused by nearly 50 days of airstrikes without risking their lives. "When I got out, I didn't know what street or intersection I was going through," Mahmoud Jamal, 31, told the AP. This taxi driver in Beit Janun, in the northern Gaza Strip, was alluding to the destruction in one of the areas most affected by the bombs and fighting.

The truce also allows humanitarian aid to reach the northern area, which includes Gaza City. Nearly a million Palestinians fled the area of an enclave where two-thirds of its 2.2 million people are already in the south. According to the agreement, 200 trucks of food, water and medicine, four of fuel and four of gas enter each day of truce.

An unusual plane landed on its runways yesterday at Ben Gurion Airport. Coming from Cyprus, the aircraft was Qatari and brought the emissaries from the emirate. The Arab emirate, the seat of Hamas' leadership abroad, wanted not only to monitor the current truce more closely - which as seen on Saturday could be broken at any time - but to try to extend it. The head of Egypt's State Information Service, Diaa Rashwan, revealed that his country received "positive signals for it to be extended for another day or two." To do this, the fundamentalist group will have to release dozens of hostages beyond the 50 agreed.

For Hamas, this pause is essential to freeze and perhaps bury an offensive aimed at completely ending its armed wing and regime in Gaza. Hence, the Islamist leader abroad, Musa Abu Marzouq, assured that the truce will continue despite his group's denunciations of Israeli "violations", alluding to the identity of the released Palestinian prisoners and the number of aid trucks in Gaza. Israel denied this, accusing Gaza's Hamas leader, Yahia Sinwar, of "manipulations to terrorize society and the families of the abductees." Mutual denunciations delayed the second batch.

Israel's position is to take advantage of this window of truce to save the maximum number of hostages, but when it closes, sooner or later to resume the attacks, as the head of the army Herzi Halevi states: "Our obligation is to fight Hamas and even sacrifice our lives to achieve the release of the hostages so that they can return to their homes and live safely."

"We are committed to halting military operations during the ceasefire as long as Israel commits to it. We will not abandon the prisoners and we will not stop our campaign until our objectives are achieved," said Abu Hamza, spokesman for Islamic Jihad's armed wing, which is holding several hostages for swaps. Another armed wing, in this case Hamas, yesterday released images of two Palestinians who were killed and hanged from an electricity pole in Tulkaren (northern West Bank) on suspicion that they were Israeli collaborators.