Photo Credit: Chuck Kennedy/State Department.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha, Qatar on Oct. 13, 2023.

Intense pressure from Qatar and Egypt has forced the Hamas terrorist organization to comply with the temporary ceasefire agreement signed with Israel, and release the second group of Israeli hostages kidnapped by its operatives on October 7.


Hamas announced at 11 pm Saturday night that it had just handed over 13 Israeli and seven foreign hostages to the Red Cross. However, the Red Cross told the IDF that its staff had received 13 Israeli and four foreign hostages, not seven as agreed and as Hamas announced.

In the end, 13 Israelis and four Thai hostages traveled via the Red Cross to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, where they were received by Israeli officials and brought back to Israel via a side entrance to the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Two hours earlier, there was a lack of clarity about whether in fact Hamas would release the hostages by midnight, the deadline set by the Israel Defense Forces for release of the captives. The IDF warned it would resume military operations in Gaza on land, in the air and by sea, if the hostages were not released by midnight.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters at a news briefing late Saturday night, “The effort to return the hostages is our moral and ethical duty. We are determined to realize this in any way … We will return the hostages in any way, through the deal, or through the next stages of the war. If the agreement is not fulfilled, we will return to fight.”

The Qatari Foreign Ministry confirmed earlier in the evening that the second group of Israeli hostages to be released would include eight children and five women.

Israel is set to release 42 imprisoned terrorists in exchange, including women, three men and teens under age 19, according to Qatar’s foreign ministry.

US President Joe Biden spoke with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as well on Saturday evening, to urge him to resolve the attempted violation of the deal by Hamas.

The first group of hostages, released by Hamas from Gaza on Friday, included six elderly women, four children and three women (mothers of the children). Israel released 39 terrorists from prisons in exchange, all of them teens and women.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.