Hamas released 12 additional hostages on Tuesday as Israel and terrorist organization entered day five of their truce deal, the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed.
The agreement, which includes a pause in fighting, will allow for more hostages to be released by Hamas, in exchange for more Palestinian prisoners set free from Israel. On Tuesday, Israel released 30 Palestinian prisoners.
The deal has also carved out stipulations to allow truckloads of desperately needed humanitarian aid to get into Gaza.
Of the 12 hostages who were being held in Gaza, 10 are Israeli and two are foreign nationals. They were handed over to the International Red Cross, which took them back to Israeli territory.
Hostages have been held captive by Hamas in Gaza since Oct. 7, when the terrorist group launched a surprise attack on Israel.
Speaking to Scripps News on Tuesday, Mark Regev, senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel will resume fighting once the truce is over.
"In the end we have to go back to fighting. Not because we want to, but we have to. Because if we don't destroy Hamas' military machine, if we don't end their rule of Gaza, we're just back to square one," Regev told Scripps News. "Their leadership has said publicly and repeatedly that given the opportunity, they would commit another Oct. 7 massacre."
"No country, no people, should have to live next to a terrorist enclave and live in constant fear of terrorists crossing the border in the middle of the night and butchering their children. No one should live that way. And we refuse to live that way. And the only way is to end Hamas' rule over Gaza," he said.
Regev added that "getting rid of Hamas is not just good for Israelis ... but getting rid of Hamas is also good for Palestinians who deserve better."
"In the end, we have to go back to fighting. Not that we want to, but we have to."@MarkRegev, Senior Advisor for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on what to expect following the extended truce with Hamas. pic.twitter.com/Rcqm7d7vEY
— Scripps News (@scrippsnews) November 28, 2023
Regev said however that Israel is still willing to continue extending its truce deal with Hamas to bring more hostages home. Israel will extend the cease-fire one day for every 10 hostages freed.
Originally, the deal carved out a four-day cease-fire, but that was extended by two days after Monday, when the deal was set to expire. Another 10 hostages are set to be released Wednesday, on the final day of the current terms.
The public is learning more about conditions for hostages in Hamas captivity as more get set free. A 78-year-old woman who was freed Friday, Ruti Munder, said hostages were fed fairly well at first, but as supplies dwindled, they began to go hungry. She described the room she was held in as "suffocating," and said captives were not allowed to open the blinds on windows.
Munder, who was held hostage for nearly 50 days, also confirmed accounts that many of the captives slept on plastic chairs. Munder was doing well after her release but some others, including an 84-year-old woman, was in life-threatening condition, and another required surgery, according to The Associated Press.
There is mounting international pressure on Israel to extend the cease-fire further.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will land in the region on Thursday morning, around the time the cease-fire is set to expire. He'll be calling on Israel to attempt to extend the truce, and will also call for the release of more hostages.
It is still unclear if any Americans will be among the hostages released Tuesday.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told reporters that there are estimates that anywhere between seven and nine Americans remain hostage in Gaza. Bringing them home is a priority for the White House.
On Tuesday, the U.S. said it airlifted more than 54,000 pounds of medical items and food aid for civilians in Gaza as the territory faces a growing humanitarian crisis.
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