Israel and Hamas have agreed to a four-day pause in fighting that includes an exchange of some of the captives taken during the October 7 Hamas attack for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody.
Here’s what we know about the captives and prisoners:
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How many captives and prisoners are being released?
More than 200 captives were taken by Hamas during its October 7 attack. Of these, about 50 will be released under the deal agreed to on Wednesday. Reuters reported that a senior US official spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, saying that there is anticipation that the actual number of captives released will be higher than 50.
In the days before the deal, Hamas had released four captives. Israel rescued one soldier who had been abducted and said it had found the bodies of two other captives.
The truce calls for 150 Palestinian prisoners to be released from Israeli jails. About 5,200 Palestinians were in Israeli prisons before October 7. After the outbreak of violence on October 7, another 3,000 were arrested, including 145 children and 95 women.
What do we know about the captives being released?
- The 50 captives being released over the four days will be civilian women and children, according to a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
- At least half of all the captives kept by Hamas hold foreign and dual citizenship from approximately 40 countries including the United States, Thailand, United Kingdom, France, Argentina, Germany, Chile, Spain and Portugal, according to the Israeli government.
- The senior US official said that of the captives to be released, three are US citizens.
- These include two women and a three-year-old girl whose parents were killed in the initial Hamas attack. The official did not provide information about captives of other nationalities who are expected to be released.
- French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna said on Wednesday that France hopes its eight citizens believed to be captives are part of the group that is released.
- According to Hamas, the captives are being held in “safe places and tunnels” in Gaza.
- Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, who was freed by Hamas earlier, reported that the captives slept on mattresses on the floor of tunnels and were provided with medical care.
- The Israeli military claimed that it has evidence of some captives being held at or under hospitals. The military also said on Sunday that Noa Marciano, a soldier whose body was recovered, was killed by Hamas at al-Shifa Hospital. Hamas said she died in an Israeli air strike.
- On October 20, Hamas released captives Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter, Natalie Raanan, 17. They released Israeli women Nurit Cooper, 79, and Lifshitz on October 23.
- The armed wing of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad announced the death of an Israeli captive late on Tuesday. Families of captives have put pressure on the Israeli government to free the captives.
What do we know about the prisoners in Israel being released?
- Hamas has said that Israel has agreed to release 150 prisoners, while the Israeli Ministry of Justice presented a list of 300 Palestinian prisoners who could potentially be released.
- Thirty-three adult women are on the list and the majority of the remaining names on the list are teenage boys.
- Most of the prisoners on the Israeli list were arrested between 2021 and 2023, with most of them accused of threatening security, illegally entering Israel without a permit, and violent crimes.
- Thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons are facing administrative detention, which means they are held indefinitely behind bars without facing trial or charges.
- Save the Children reported in July that the children in Israeli detention are subjected to abuse. The nature of the abuse ranges from sexual violence to physical and psychological abuse. The report added that some are deprived of food, water and sleep.
- “The main alleged crime for these detentions is stone-throwing, which can carry a 20-year sentence in prison for Palestinian children,” said the report.