Commencing this evening with the liberation of hostages and the impending conclusion of the temporary truce extension between Israel and Hamas, set to elapse in mere hours. Tonight witnessed the release of eight Israeli hostages by Hamas, an event marked by the Red Cross Vehicles assuming custody of several captives in Gaza, transporting them through the Rafa Crossing into Egypt. Separately, a diurnal release unfolded, liberating two women: a 40-year-old Israeli lawyer abducted while sheltering in her home and the 21-year-old daughter of dual French and Israeli nationality, seized during a music festival. This young woman, featured in a video released by Hamas days after the terror incident, beseeched her family to facilitate her return.
Behold the poignant images of Mia, rushing into the embrace of her mother and brother tonight. Additionally, an unfortunate incident occurred at a bus stop in Jerusalem, with Hamas claiming responsibility. Online videos depict the moment a Palestinian gunman assaulted the bus stop, resulting in four casualties. Secretary Anthony Blinkin, presently in the region, engages in urgent negotiations to extend the truce and secure the release of more hostages, including Americans. Reporting from Israel, ABC’s Matt Gman leads us through these developments.
Amidst the emotive scenes tonight, witness the tearful reunion of the family of 21-year-old Mem, held captive for 55 days. The mother clings to the daughter she believed lost, the culmination of a massive crowd surrounding Mia and another hostage, guided by a gunman to a Red Cross van in Gaza. Mia’s mother receives the transformative phone call confirming her daughter’s return. Recall our initial conversation with Mia’s mother six weeks ago, following the release of a Hamas video featuring Mia in captivity, pleading for her family’s assistance.
Despite the release of eight hostages by Hamas today, none were American. Over 100 individuals remain in captivity, and Israel has released an additional 30 Palestinian women and minors. Urgent negotiations surround the expiring temporary ceasefire, with online videos portraying a bus stop attack in Jerusalem, intensifying the fragility of the truce. Hamas claims responsibility for this attack, prompting Israel to renew its commitment to eliminate Hamas and progress to the next phase of the conflict in southern Gaza. The IDF emphasizes the necessity to confront Hamas in southern Gaza, even if it resembles the conditions in Northern Gaza.
The civilian population in Gaza faces the harsh reality of living in bombed-out neighborhoods, with 15,000 reported casualties according to the health ministry run by Hamas. The UN warns of an impending humanitarian catastrophe, with nearly 2 million Palestinians displaced. Njla Mat and Kanun, a 40-year-old supporter of the truce, laments the lack of water and food, highlighting the absence of basic necessities for survival.
Growing concerns surround the fate of eight American hostages believed to be in Gaza, as Israeli and American officials admit limited knowledge of their condition or the group holding them captive. The uncertainty surrounding these individuals persists, encapsulated by Iris Hagay Lato, who possesses the last video of her mother, Judy, an American citizen shot during a morning walk.
Matt Gutman, reporting from Tel Aviv, sheds light on the temporary extension of the ceasefire set to expire soon. Israeli sources express willingness to extend the ceasefire if Hamas continues releasing hostages. However, the available pool of hostages deemed eligible by Hamas, primarily women and children, has diminished. The significant diplomatic efforts by the United States aim not only to secure the release of more hostages but also to facilitate the inflow of much-needed humanitarian aid into Gaza before resumption of hostilities.