Twenty of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 have been released during the second day of the ‘hostage for prisoners swap’ on Saturday.
It was put on hold for several hours, but eventually, the hostages were driven to the Rafah Crossing on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Thirteen Israeli hostages and seven foreign nationals are included in this second hostage exchange group. The Israeli group consists of six women and seven children.
No American hostages were in the first or this second wave of exchanges.
Hamas pulled back on the swap on Saturday alleging that Israel had violated the terms of a temporary peace pause.
Later on Saturday, Hamas issued a statement on social media saying it was putting the exchange back on track after mediation from Egypt and Qatar "conveyed the occupation's (Israel's) commitment to all the conditions stipulated in the agreement."
Qatar's foreign ministry spokesman, in a post on X, stated that 39 Palestinians would be released in exchange for 13 Israelis, "in addition to 7 foreigners outside the framework of the agreement."
The on-off drama on Saturday until the release of the second wave of hostage for prisoner swap led to senior Hamas leader Osama Hamdan stating to a Beirut-based satellite news channel that a disagreement over how much aid Israel was allowing into northern Gaza was one sticking point.
Another delay Hamdan claimed was Israel's firing on Palestinians during an incident on Friday. Hamas has claimed two people were killed and 30 were wounded by IDF.
An Israeli official told NPR that "Israel did not violate the agreement."
Israel has said the temporary truce could be extended up to ten days if Hamas keeps releasing hostages on at an agreed ratio of one Israel for every three Palestinians.
Egypt's state information service said that Egyptian officials were working with parties involved in the negotiations "to extend the truce period between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, for a day or so."
Israel's military has vowed to resume fighting when this phase of the peace pause expires or breaks down.
"At the end of the operational pause, we will return promptly to our operations and offensive in Gaza," said Israeli Military Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Saturday.
Subscribe to our evening newsletter to stay informed during these challenging times!!