Two Israeli Hostages Released
Hamas militants yesterday released two elderly female Israeli hostages, marking the third and fourth civilians freed more than two weeks after Hamas captured a group of people from Israel (see previous write-up). Israel revised the number of confirmed hostages yesterday to 222 people, up from Sunday's figure of 212 people. The husbands of the two elderly freed hostages remain captive.
The latest release—confirmed by Israel—is part of mediated efforts led by Qatar and Egypt and comes amid negotiations with Hamas over the possible release of 50 civilian captives who hold dual citizenship. Hamas has reportedly demanded Israel allow fuel deliveries, as well as a steady flow of humanitarian aid, into Gaza in exchange for freeing a larger group of hostages; so far, 54 trucks of aid have entered Gaza. Israel seeks the release of all hostages before permitting fuel to be delivered.
Separately, the US reportedly has sent a Marine three-star general and other US military officers to Israel to help advise the Israeli military about its plans in Gaza ahead of an anticipated ground invasion.
The death toll in Gaza has risen above 5,000, while the death toll in Israel is at least 1,400. Israel said yesterday it had struck more than 320 targets in Gaza since Sunday. See updates on the war here.