According to Israeli media, citing the prime minister’s office, Israel has received a list of hostages who are expected to be released by Hamas on Wednesday. The prime minister’s office did not respond immediately.
Israel has stated that the cease-fire could be extended further if Hamas continues to release at least 10 Israeli hostages per day. However, with fewer women and children still being held captive, keeping the guns silent beyond Wednesday may necessitate negotiating the release of at least some Israeli men for the first time.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian militant group Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad released 12 hostages, bringing the total number of hostages released since the truce began on Friday to 81. Among them were mostly Israeli women and children, as well as foreign nationals.
The hostages, ten Israeli women and two Thai citizens ranging in age from 17 to 84, included a mother-daughter duo. All were given preliminary medical examinations before being transferred to Israeli hospitals to meet their families.
Shortly after, Israel released 30 Palestinians from Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank and a detention center in Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, a semi-official organization, half were women and the other half were teenage males. The total number of Palestinians released under the truce now stands at 180.
The hostages were among 240 people kidnapped by Hamas gunmen on October 7 during a rampage into southern Israel in which Israel claims 1,200 people were killed. In retaliation, Israel bombed Hamas-ruled Gaza, killing over 15,000 people, according to health officials there.
Qatar, which mediated indirect talks between Hamas and Israel that resulted in the ceasefire, hosted the heads of Israel’s Mossad and the CIA on Tuesday.
According to a source briefed on the matter, the officials discussed possible parameters of a new phase of the truce agreement, including Hamas releasing hostages who are men or military personnel rather than just women and children. They also considered what might be required to achieve a cease-fire lasting more than a few days.
Qatar spoke with Hamas ahead of the meeting to gauge what the group might agree on. According to the source, the Israelis and Hamas are now internally debating the ideas discussed at the meeting.
Separately, the Group of Seven foreign ministers called for an extension of the ceasefire and increased humanitarian aid in a joint statement on Tuesday.
There are currently 159 hostages in Gaza. According to the White House, this includes eight to nine Americans. According to US national security spokesperson John Kirby, the US is hopeful that Hamas will release more Americans and that the US government will work with Qatar to extend the cease-fire.
“We want to see all the hostages out. The way to do that is these pauses,” Kirby told reporters traveling on the president’s plane on Tuesday.
WARNING: MORE DEATHS IN GAZA DUE TO DISEASE
The cease-fire is Gaza’s first reprieve after seven weeks of fighting and bombardment that has left much of the seaside enclave in ruins. It was set to expire overnight into Tuesday, but both parties agreed to extend the pause to allow more people to be released.
The siege imposed by Israel has resulted in the collapse of Gaza’s health-care system, particularly in the north, where no hospitals remain operational. According to the World Health Organization, more Gazans may die from disease than from bombing, and many do not have access to medicines, vaccines, safe water and hygiene, or food.
More than two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced by Israeli airstrikes, with thousands of families sleeping rough in makeshift shelters with only the belongings they could carry. They are in desperate need of food, fuel, and safe drinking water.
“We have a dramatic humanitarian situation. At the same time, we want to have the full release of all hostages, that we believe should be unconditional and immediate. But we need a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza now,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Tuesday.
The temporary ceasefire has allowed approximately 800 aid trucks to enter Gaza, and the first of three United States planes carrying humanitarian supplies for Gaza landed in Egypt on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths was scheduled to visit Amman, Jordan, to discuss the reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing, which would allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza from Israel.
The Kerem Shalom crossing, located at the crossroads of Israel, the Gaza Strip, and Egypt, transported more than 60% of aid into Gaza prior to the current conflict.
Aid for Gaza is now delivered via the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border, which was designed for pedestrians rather than trucks.