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Hamas says 2nd release of Israeli hostages to continue after delay

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-11-26 04:57
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A Palestinian sits next to a fire near the rubble of his house hit in an Israeli strike during the conflict, amid a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip Nov 25, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA/DOHA -- The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) said late Saturday that the second exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners will go ahead after being delayed for several hours.

Hamas said in a statement that it decided to ensure the continuation of the temporary truce agreement after Egyptians and Qataris assured the movement that Israel would abide by all terms stipulated in the agreement.

Qatar's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "obstacles to the release of prisoners were overcome through Qatari-Egyptian contacts with both sides, and 39 Palestinians will be released tonight, while 13 Israeli hostages will leave Gaza in addition to seven foreigners," it said.

The second exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners was scheduled to take place around 4 pm local time (1400 GMT) Saturday but was delayed for several hours.

Hamas said earlier in the day that it had decided to delay the second release as Israel failed to comply with the terms regarding the entry of relief trucks into the northern regions of the Gaza Strip and the agreed-upon criteria for releasing prisoners.

Under the mediation by Qatar and Egypt, Hamas and Israel on Wednesday agreed to a four-day humanitarian cease-fire to force a temporary halt to the fighting between the two sides. After the truce deal went into effect Friday, Hamas released 24 hostages, including 13 Israelis, 10 Thai, and one Filipino, while Israel freed 39 Palestinian prisoners. The release of non-Israeli nationals was separate to the truce deal.


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