Hamas releases second group of Israeli hostages after delay

Some of the 13 Israelis and 4 Thai nationals released from Hamas captivity arrived at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel early on Sunday.

This is the second step of a crucial hostage deal that briefly risked falling apart due to a dispute over the delivery of aid supplies into Gaza.

The short-lived dispute that threatened the temporary truce to free captives was overcome with the mediation of Qatar and Egypt, but it underscored the fragility of the agreement, under which a total of 50 Israeli hostages are to be exchanged for 150 Palestinian prisoners over four days.

Black vans carrying the released hostages arrived at the hospital under tight security, with large curtains pulled at the entrance before they walked out of the vehicles. Of the 13 Israelis released, six were women and seven were children and teenagers.

A Palestinian official familiar with the diplomacy said Hamas would continue with the four-day truce agreed with Israel, the first halt in fighting since Hamas fighters rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages.

In response to that attack, Israel has vowed to destroy the Hamas militants who run Gaza, raining bombs and shells on the enclave and launching a ground offensive in the north.

To date, some 14,800 people, roughly 40% of them children, have been killed, Palestinian health authorities said on Saturday.