Hamas fighters to free more hostages as families reunite

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An image grab from a handout video released by the Hamas Media Office shows Hamas fighters accompanying newly released Thai hostages to a Red Cross vehicle, in the Gaza Strip early on November 26, 2023. Hamas on November 25, released a second group of Israeli and foreign civilians it had been holding hostage in the Gaza Strip in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, after an hours-long unexpected delay set nerves on edge. Israeli authorities said 13 Israelis and four Thai citizens had returned to Israel. (Photo by HAMAS MEDIA OFFICE / AFP)

Hamas fighters were set Sunday to release a third group of Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, a day after freeing captives including a young woman snatched from a desert rave. In a sign of the fragility of the exchanges, the latest swap Saturday was delayed for hours after Hamas accused Israel of breaching its side of the deal that led to a four-day ceasefire in the seven-week-old war.

Despite the dispute, Hamas finally released 13 Israelis and four Thai hostages at night, officials said. Israel said it in turn freed 39 Palestinian prisoners. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it had since received a list of hostages due to be released by Hamas on Sunday.

The list was being checked by security officials, it said, and families of the hostages had been informed. Among the hostages freed late Saturday was 21-year-old Maya Regev, who had been kidnapped by Hamas fighters in their deadly assault on the Supernova music festival, a brutal episode in the broader October 7 attack on Israel.

She was the first of the music festival hostages to be released since armed Hamas fighters swooped on the event, killing hundreds, taking captives, and sending others fleeing for their lives.

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