red cross crescent hoste release hamas gaza israel
© Mohammed Abed / AFPAn International Red Cross vehicle reportedly carrying hostages released by Hamas crosses the Rafah border point in the Gaza Strip towards Egypt on November 24, 2023.
The militant group has released 24 people, both Israelis and foreign nationals, in exchange for 39 Palestinian prisoners

Israeli citizens handed over by Hamas on Friday appear to be in good health, local medics have reported. The Palestinian militant group also released ten Thai nationals and one Filipino, while Israel let 39 Palestinian prisoners go.

The swap was part of a deal reached earlier this week, under which 50 Israeli women and children were due to be exchanged for 150 Palestinian inmates. The Israeli military has also temporarily halted its operation against militants in Gaza, with the truce expected to last four days.

Speaking at a press conference late on Friday, Schneider Children's Medical Center chief executive Efrat Bron-Harlev said the four children and four women, received by the facility, are in good physical condition.

"They are currently undergoing medical and emotional assessment," she added, asking the press to respect the freed hostages' privacy.

Comment: Hamas appears to have treated the hostages with care and respect, if body language is anything to tell by:

The other five released Israelis, who are under observation at the Wolfson Medical Center, are also said to be feeling well.

Thailand's foreign ministry has reported that the ten released Thai captives, most of whom are farm workers, will fly home after spending 48 hours under medical supervision. Bangkok has revealed that 20 more of its citizens remain in Hamas captivity.

Commenting on the release of the first hostages in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday, US President Joe Biden reiterated Washington's commitment to ensuring that all the other captives are freed as well.

"We won't stop until they're home - I have no higher priority," he added.

During its October 7 incursion, Hamas abducted more than 200 people, many of whom either hold dual citizenship or are foreign nationals, including Americans.

The freeing of 24 hostages on Friday was reportedly supervised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose ambulances are said to have taken the group from Khan Younis in southern Gaza to the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border.

Israel's cabinet agreed to the hostage swap late on Tuesday night, with Qatar, Egypt and the US having played the role of mediators.

The arrangement was originally set to begin on Thursday, but was postponed by Israel.

The deal has given Gazans a short respite after weeks of heavy Israeli bombardment, which according to Palestinian authorities has claimed nearly 15,000 lives.