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Gaza: 7th day of truce: Eight Israeli hostages released in place of 30 Palestinians

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DEIR AL BALAH: Eight Israeli hostages were released from Hamas captivity in the Gaza strip on Thursday as part of a temporary cease-fire deal that has lasted for seven days, the Israeli military said. Israel freed 30 Palestinian prisoners in the early hours of Friday under the truce deal, which has paused the deadliest fighting in decades between Israel and Palestinians.
International pressure has mounted for the truce to be upheld as long as possible after weeks of Israeli bombardment and ground campaign following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel that triggered the war.
Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israel, and more than three-quarters of the population of 2.3 million have been uprooted, leading to a humanitarian crisis.
Israel has vowed to resume the fighting – with the goal of dismantling Hamas – once the cease-fire ends.
In what has become a daily ritual, Hamas also released a video showing the hostages being turned over to the Red Cross by militants. In one scene, masked gunmen escorted two hostages to waiting vehicles as crowds of onlookers shouted and whistled at them.
A busload of 30 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel has been welcomed home in the West Bank.
The bus arrived early Friday in the city of Ramallah, hours after Hamas militants released eight Israeli hostages after eight weeks of captivity in the Gaza Strip.
Dozens of men, some holding green Hamas flags, greeted the prisoners. The men were hugged and the crowd chanted, “God is great.”
The exchanges have been taking place each night since last Friday as part of a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas.
The cease-fire is set to expire Friday, but international mediators are working to extend it by at least another day. Israel has vowed to resume its offensive against Hamas in Gaza once the truce ends.

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