As a truce deal between Israel and Hamas entered into force Friday morning, 24 hostages kidnapped by Hamas were released from the Gaza Strip.
style="MARGIN: 0px 3px 15px">Under the mediation by Qatar and Egypt, Hamas and Israel reached on Wednesday a four-day humanitarian cease-fire to force a temporary halt of the fighting between the two sides, starting from Friday.
According to the agreement, Hamas will release at least 50 Israeli hostages, mainly children and women, in exchange for 150 female and teen Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.
Earlier in the day, Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, released 13 Israelis, some of whom were dual nationals, and 10 Thai and one Filipino citizens, escorted by crews from the International Committee of the Red Cross to Egypt through the Rafah crossing.
A Hamas security source, who requires anonymity, told Xinhua that the release process was carried out in accordance with strict security measures imposed by the Al-Qassam.
Israeli media reported that Israeli army helicopters took off from the Hatzeri base to receive the released hostages from the Egyptian side.
After initial reception procedures, including medical treatments, the hostages were transferred to hospitals to reunite with their family members.
Meanwhile, buses carrying about 39 Palestinian prisoners departed on Friday night from the Israeli Ofer prison, located near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The prisoners released, including 24 women and 15 children, were transferred to the West Bank and East Jerusalem.