Israel-Hamas conflict live updates: Hamas releases 24 hostages; four-day ceasefire under way

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Key posts

  • Biden hopes ceasefire will last more than four days
  • Thirteen Israeli women and children back in Israel
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
  • 1 of 1

Hope of truce extension ‘real’, US president says

Staying with the US president’s remarks for a moment, and Joe Biden also expressed hope that American nationals held by Hamas will eventually be freed.

“I don’t know how long it will take,” he said.

“My expectation and hope is that as we move forward, the rest of the Arab world and the region is also putting pressure on all sides to slow this down, to bring this to an end as quickly as we can.”

Biden paid credit to US diplomats for their role in the release of hostages, and said the chances of extending the ceasefire were “real”.

Over the next few days, 150 Palestinian prisoners and 50 Israeli hostages are expected to be freed.

with Reuters

Biden hopes ceasefire will last more than four days

Meanwhile, in the United States, President Joe Biden has addressed the media regarding the release of Israeli hostages.

During his opening remarks, the president said he hoped the Gaza ceasefire could last more than four days. He added that it was a “worthwhile thought” to condition military aid to Israel.

Biden speaking to reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Credit: AP

Thirteen Israeli women and children back in Israel

Seven weeks in captivity have ended for 13 Israeli mothers and children who were abducted by Hamas last month, with authorities confirming the return of the hostages to Israeli territory, soon to be reunited with their families.

The delicate exchange began about 4.30pm on Friday, Middle East time, marking the first stage of a four-day truce between Israel and Hamas that began earlier in the day. A total 50 hostages are expected to be released under the deal in coming days.

People look at photographs of hostages, mostly Israeli civilians, who were abducted on October 7 by Hamas.Credit: AP

An additional 11 international hostages were also released from captivity on Friday under a separate agreement.

Their release was followed in the evening by the freeing of the Palestinian prisoners — 24 women, including some convicted of attempted murder for attacks on Israeli forces, and 15 teenagers jailed for offences like throwing stones.

A convoy of ambulances transporting the international group of hostages passed through Egypt’s Rafah crossing in ambulances on Friday night, in what was the first major release of Hamas-held hostages since fighting began.

Read the full story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Morning, and welcome to another day of our live Middle East coverage.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started:

  • Twenty-four hostages held by Hamas were freed on Friday, Middle East time. They included 13 Israeli citizens, 10 Thai citizens and one Filipino citizen, according to Qatar, which helped broker their release.
  • In exchange, Israel has released more than 30 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom have been convicted by Israel of attempted murder for attacks on Israeli forces. Others, including teenagers, were jailed for offences such as throwing stones.
  • The four-day truce deal that is under way has allowed some fuel and other supplies into the Gaza Strip. Israel has agreed to allow the delivery of 130,000 litres of fuel into Gaza for humanitarian use for the duration of the ceasefire.
  • More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed in the war so far, according to the Hamas Health Ministry. Around 1200 Israelis have been killed, the vast majority during Hamas’ initial incursion into Israel.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will press ahead with the war after the ceasefire expires.
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