Hamas released 17 more hostages Sunday— 14 Israelis and three foreign nationals—in the third group of hostages freed as part of the deal reached between Israel and Hamas last week, and President Joe Biden confirmed one of the hostages freed is an American child with dual Israeli citizenship.
The Israel Defense Forces announced Sunday morning that the Red Cross said it had received the third group of hostages.
Abigail Edan—a 4-year-old dual Israeli-U.S. citizen whose parents were killed in Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, according to the New York Times—is among those released Sunday, Biden said during an address from the White House.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that the White House had “reason to believe” Hamas would free three American citizens (including Edan and two women) during the four-day pause in fighting.
But Sullivan also “we have not gotten proof of life on any” of the hostages.
“We feel very fully apprised of what is likely to unfold today but we proceed with caution, because we’re dealing with a terrorist group here, so we can’t be absolutely certain about what is going to happen until it happens,” Sullivan said.
Hamas has released a total of 58 hostages since Friday, including the 17 released Sunday. Friday’s release included 13 Israelis, 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino citizen held hostage in Gaza by Hamas. Hamas released an additional 13 Israelis and four Thai nationals on Saturday after a brief delay after Hamas claimed Israel was not meeting the terms of the agreement (which Israel denied). In exchange for the hostages, Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners on both Friday and Saturday. Hamas and Israeli officials announced they reached a deal last week for Hamas to release a total of 50 Israeli hostages, all women and children, taken captive in Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel amid a four-day pause in fighting. They are among an estimated 240 hostages, including 10 believed to be Americans, taken by Hamas from Israel.
What We Don’t Know
Whether the four-day pause in fighting will be extended beyond Monday to allow for the release of additional hostages. Israel has said it would agree to pause fighting for an additional day for every 10 additional hostages released by Hamas beyond the 50 already agreed to. “We are working with all sides on the possibility that this deal gets extended,” Sullivan said. “The ball really is in Hamas’ court.”
187. That’s the number of humanitarian aid trucks that have entered Gaza amid the four-day pause in fighting, according to the United Nations, which is overseeing the aid distribution.