Hamas confirmed on Friday that its working with mediators to release the civilian hostages it has been holding since its surprise attacks on Israel on October 7 from the Gaza Strip.
A statement by the movement published following the release of two American hostages said, “We’re working with all mediators to implement the movement’s decision to close the civilian prisoners’ issue if appropriate security conditions are available”.
Hamas released the two American hostages from among about 200 people it took on October 7, and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office confirmed their arrival in Israeli territory.
Hamas said in a statement that it had released two American detainees (a mother and her daughter) for humanitarian reasons.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that Judith Tai Raanan and Natalie Shoshana Raanan were released about two weeks after they were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
The Israeli army announced earlier Friday that most of the kidnapped people in Gaza are still alive.
A military spokesman said in a statement, “The majority of the hostages are alive… There are also bodies that were taken to the Gaza Strip”.
The spokesman explained, “Among the approximately 200 hostages currently in the Gaza Strip, more than 20 are minors (under the age of 18) and between 10 and 20 hostages are over the age of 60”.
According to the Israeli army, between 100 and 200 people are considered missing since October 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on the border towns with Israel.
More than 1,400 people were killed on the Israeli side, most of them on the day of the Hamas attack, according to Israeli authorities.
The Israeli army said that about 1,500 Hamas fighters were killed in the counterattack, which allowed Israel to regain control of the areas attacked.
Meanwhile, 4,137 people were killed in Gaza Strip, including more than 1,500 children, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health, and the number of wounded reached more than 13 thousand.
For his part, US President Joe Biden expressed on Friday his “overwhelming happiness” after Hamas released two American hostages who had been held by the movement in attacks it launched against Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7.
“Today, we secured the release of two Americans who were held hostage by Hamas during the horrific attack against Israel on October 7,” Biden said in a statement.
He added that they “suffered a terrible ordeal during the past 14 days, and I feel overjoyed that they will soon be reunited with their family”.
Biden thanked Qatar, which hosts a political office for Hamas and which previously mediated between the movement and Israel, and the Israeli government for their partnership in this work.
The US President pledged to continue working to release other Americans held by Hamas since the attack, and he spoke to the families of a number of them last week.
“We won’t stop until we bring their loved ones home… As President, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world,” Biden said.