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24 hostages and 39 Palestinians released in Israel-Hamas truce

Thirteen Israelis were freed from Gaza in a truce deal on Friday, while a number of Thai captives were also released.

Coverage on this live blog has ended. Follow live updates here.

Twenty-four hostages were released from Gaza and 39 Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli jails amid a four-day cease-fire, causing jubilation in the West Bank and hope in Israel.

Raucous crowds packed West Bank streets to celebrate the release of Palestinians under an agreement expected to result in the release of 50 hostages held by Hamas militants in Gaza.

Among those released by militants were 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and one Filipino, a Qatari official said. 

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it has received a list of hostages to be released tomorrow and has been in touch with their loved ones.

Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the releases brought a “great sense of relief.”

Speaking during a national address, U.S. President Joe Biden said, “It’s only a start, but so far it’s gone well.”

Hagari later issued more sober remarks during a video address in which he reminded Israelis and supporters of the state that many more hostages needed to be released — an estimated 240 were being held before the releases began — and Hamas needed to be eradicated.

“Today the world watched and breathed a collective sigh of relief,” he said. But he added, “But we must never lose sight of ... babies who were not reunited with their loved ones, who are still being held by Hamas.”

The IDF warned Gaza residents who moved south not to return to the war-torn north amid the cease-fire, indicating that more bloody warfare was likely when the cease-fire ends.

More than 1.7 million people have been displaced in Gaza, and the death toll has surpassed 14,500, health officials in Gaza have said.

Hagari said it’s not over yet.

Fighting must resume in order to secure the freedom of all the hostages, put an end to enemy Hamas and its threat to Israel’s existence and ensure that Oct. 7 happens “never again,” he said.

What we know

  • Twenty-four hostages were released from the Gaza Strip today as a pause in fighting that began this morning continues to hold. Thirteen Israelis were freed as part of the deal with Hamas, which also saw 39 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails and aid flow into Gaza. A number of Thai captives were separately released by Hamas.
  • The breakthrough follows weeks of "excruciating" negotiations brokered by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt for a deal featuring a four-day truce, with at least 50 hostages expected to be freed from Gaza and 150 Palestinians from Israel. A last-minute delay saw Israel bombard sites across the Gaza Strip yesterday.
  • The Israeli military has urged civilians who fled to southern Gaza not to return home during the pause, warning "the war is not over yet" in leaflets dropped this morning. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said battles would continue "forcefully" after the truce, and that he expects at least two more months of fighting.
  • Fuel trucks and convoys carrying humanitarian aid have entered the besieged Palestinian enclave this morning amid the truce, offering the hope of some relief for civilians who have been suffering for weeks as supplies of food, water and medicine ran low.
  • More than 1.7 million people have been displaced in Gaza, where health officials say the death toll has surpassed 14,500 after weeks of Israeli attacks. The Israel Defense Forces estimate 1,200 people were killed in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, with more than 200 people held hostage in Gaza.
  • NBC News’ Keir Simmons, Raf Sanchez, Ali Arouzi, Erin McLaughlin and David Noriega are reporting from the region.

Israeli official says Hamas' end is unfinished business

Feelings of peace and hope may fill the air tonight amid the four-day cease-fire that’s facilitating the release of hostages held by Hamas and prisoners held by Israel, but the war isn’t over yet, a top Israeli official said.

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari reminded Israelis in a video address tonight that the mission to eradicate Hamas is not over. Hargari noted that even the exchange of hostages was a half-step forward, with the vast majority of the estimated 240 abducted in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel remaining in the custody of Hamas militants despite today’s release of 24 hostages.

“Today the world watched and breathed a collective sigh of relief,” Hagari said. But he added, “But we must never lose sight of ... babies who were not reunited with their loved ones, who are still being held by Hamas.”

He said the fighting must carry on in order to secure the freedom of all the hostages, put an end to what he characterized as a terrorist Hamas regime, and ensure that Oct. 7 happens “never again.”

Israeli family shares effects of Arab-Israeli conflict on 5 generations

The Brenner family has been in what is now Israel since the early 1900s, its patriarch, Joseph Hayyim Brenner, having helped to shape the culture and identity of the settlers who would become Israelis through his literature.

He died during the Arab riots in Jaffa in 1921, and others in his family would die fighting for Israel. Shanni Brenner, his great granddaughter, said she has pride for her family's heritage and contributions, sometimes mortal.

Shanni Brenner's daughter is serving in the dental unit of the Israeli prison service, where she sometimes must treat enemy combatants. She suggested her daughter's service is existential for Israel and for the family: "No choice," she said.

Hospital raided by Israeli forces was treating 73 ill patients, WHO says

Al-Shifa Hospital, said to be the largest such institution in Gaza, was treating at least 73 severely ill or injured patients when it was all but shut down this week, the World Health Organization said in a statement today.

The 73 were part of a WHO-enabled transfer of 151 total patients from Al-Shifa that started on Wednesday, the United Nations agency said. They were taken to the European Gaza Hospital and Al Najjar Hospital in Gaza's southern region, it said.

An additional 100 patients and staff members remained at Al-Shifa in the north despite its demise "due to lack of water, fuel, medical supplies, food, and staff, and recent military incursions," the WHO said.

The 73 included 19 people in wheelchairs, 18 dialysis patients, and 26 patients with serious spinal injuries, according to the WHO.

Israeli forces, who said enemy Hamas militants were operating in tunnels below the institution, raided the hospital Nov. 15 and arrested its director.

Children's hospital receives 8 hostages

Israel Awaits Hostage Return On First Day Of Truce With Hamas
Israelis react at the ''Hostages Square'' outside the Art Museum of Tel Aviv as the first group of Israeli hostages safely returns to Israel in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Nov. 24, 2023.Gili Yaari / NurPhoto via Reuters Connect

Leaders at Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel in the city of Petach Tikvah said the institution is examining eight released hostages who arrived there today.

They include four children, three mothers, and a grandmother, the CEO of the hospital, Dr. Efrat Bron-Harlev, said during a news conference.

"Their physical condition is good and they're currently undergoing medical and emotional assessment by the medical and psychological team," she said.

Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel was one of six hospitals designated by Israel's government to receive released hostages and check out their physical and mental health, a health ministry official said.

A total of 22 hostages held by militants were released today, Israeli Defense Forces said; a spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross said the number was 24. At least 13 are Israeli; the rest are said to be foreigners from places including Thailand.

Israel was expected to release 39 jailed Palestinians under the four-day cease-fire; 33 have already been released, Red Cross officials said.

"There are not enough words to express the emotion that we're feeling at this time," Bron-Harley said. "Together with the families in the entire nation of Israel, we will do our utmost to care for the physical and emotional health of the returned hostages. From our perspective, this is a national mission." 

Raucous crowds packed West Bank streets Saturday to celebrate the release of Palestinian prisoners under a cease-fire agreement that was expected to also see the release of 50 hostages taken by Hamas.

The celebrants with World Cup-energy roiled in the streets and waved Palestinian flags to mark the occasion.

Today, 39 Palestinian prisoners were released from jails in Israel and allowed to cross into Gaza amid the four-day cease-fire.

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today it has received a list of hostages to be released tomorrow and has been in touch with their loved ones.

Security officials in Israel were checking the list, according to a statement from the prime minister's office.

The office asked the news media to exercise caution, ostensibly in deciding whether to identify any of those slated to be freed. The office did not release any identities for this second wave of hostages expected to be freed.

Husband and father of released hostages says he 'will not celebrate until the last of the abductees returns'

Yoni Katz Asher, whose wife Doron and daughters Raz, 4, and Aviv, 2, were released by Hamas on Friday, said he is grateful that his family has returned home, but is holding off on celebrations until all the hostages have returned.

“I am happy that I got my family back. [I am] allowed to be happy and... shed a tear. It’s a human thing. But I don’t celebrate,” Asher said. "I won’t celebrate until the last of the kidnapped returns."

Asher said he is determined to “resurrect” his family from the trauma they went through. He thanked the families of hostages, the IDF, and the Israeli government for helping to bring his family home.

Cousin of hostage, freed with her two children, celebrates her return

Freed Israeli hostage Doron Katz Asher, 34, and her two daughters Aviv, 2, and Raz, 4, are in an Israeli hospital waiting for the medical team to finish their assessments so they can return home.

"It has been a very emotional time for all of them so we can’t wait for them to be back," said Chen Dori-Roberts, Doron's cousin. "I think they are in good hands right now."

Doron was visiting her mother in Kibbutz Nir Oz when she and her children were abducted by Hamas. She called her husband, Yoni Asher, to tell him terrorists had entered the home she was hiding in.

Chen-Dori Roberts and Yoni Asher later found videos on social media of their family crammed on the back of a vehicle being transported to Gaza. Doron's mother was killed by Hamas at the Gaza border.

IDF and Mossad have received a list of hostages that will be released tomorrow

The Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad have received a list of the hostages to be released tomorrow, according to the Israeli Prime Minister's Office.

Security officials are checking the list. The Prime Minister's Office said new information will be provided as it is verified.

"On behalf of the person in charge of the abductees and the missing, Lt. Col. Gal Hirsch — the information has been given to the families of the abductees, we ask the media to act with the required caution," said the statement.

Ohad Munder, child, and other Israeli hostages released by Hamas

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas releases hostages
Al-Qassam Brigades, Military Wing via Reuters

Doctor: Hostages had lack of sunlight, poor nutrition in captivity

Recently freed hostages may face a variety of health risks, from nutritional deficiency to lack of exercise, after spending 47 days in captivity in Gaza, according to professor Hagai Levine, head of the medical team for Israel’s Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum.

“We know, for example, for diets, that they did not get a proper diet,” Levine told journalists at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, where five of the recently released elderly hostages will receive evaluations and treatment.

“No exposure to sunlight, which again, for seven weeks, it’s, you know, there is a lack of vitamin D and, of course, mentally, how it affects you.”

One of his biggest concerns is that hostages did not receive their prescribed medications. Levine acknowledged reports that some hostages did get medical treatment while in captivity, saying the level of care was something doctors will “have to evaluate now.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross facilitates release of 33 Palestinian prisoners

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it facilitated the release of 33 Palestinian detainees today.

The prisoners exited an Israeli prison and were transferred to Ramallah, in the West Bank.

"We have managed to do so thanks to our neutral intermediary role," the ICRC said in a post on X.

In all, 39 Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli jails on the first day of the Israel-Hamas truce.

Demonstrations held at malls across the country on Black Friday

Demonstrators gathered outside malls in major cities across the country today, including several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters who marched through New York City's Herald Square while chanting, "While you shop, bombs drop" and "Occupation, not a war."

In Atlanta, protesters stood outside Lenox Square and some entered the roadway, according to police. Eight people were arrested for refusing officers' commands to disperse from the street, police said.

Other demonstrations were held at Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor, Michigan; the Holyoke Mall in Holyoke, Massachusetts; the Crossgates Mall in Albany, New York; Tysons Corner Center in Tysons, Virginia; Asheville Mall in Asheville, North Carolina; Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, California; and Tampa Premium Outlets in Florida.

IDF spokesperson says release of hostages brings a 'great sense of relief'

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari celebrated the release of hostages, saying it brings a "great sense of relief."

The released hostages underwent an initial medical evaluation and have arrived at Hatzerim Base, where they will contact their family members and complete further medical examinations. They will then be transported via military helicopters to designated hospitals, where they will have the chance to meet their families, Hagari said.

If a released prisoner is not Israeli, a representative from their country will meet them at the Hatzerim base, he explained.

Hagari said the release will most likely bring a mix of sadness and joy for many of the freed prisoners.

"We must not forget tonight that each and every one of those returning home this evening still has a family member or relative who was murdered or is in captivity in Gaza," he said. "The sight of the returnees crossing the border into the territory of the state of Israel is a great sense of relief. However, our hearts are with those still held in Gaza. ... We are only at the beginning of the process."

Preparations are still being made for the release of other prisoners.

"Again, nothing is final until it is finished. We do not forget for a moment that Hamas is a cruel and merciless enemy," Hagari said.

Released Palestinian prisoner says conditions were 'catastrophic'

A released Palestinian prisoner said conditions in the prison were "very hard" and described the situation as "catastrophic."

"The situation inside (prison) is very hard, I can’t really express how hard it is," Laith Othman told reporters. "We were not allowed out of our cells, no good food, no meals, there is nothing, we were starving. There is nothing good in the prison, the situation is very catastrophic."

Othman was among those released in a hostage-prisoner swap exchange between Hamas and Israel.

"I can’t express my feelings now, thanks to God," he said.


22 released Israeli and foreign hostages arrived at Israeli air base, says IDF

According to the IDF, the 22 Israeli and foreign hostages released today have arrived at Hatzerim Base, an air force base in southern Israel's Negev desert.

Alongside Israeli soldiers and medics, the hostages will be flown to hospitals to be reunited with their families, the IDF said. Two of the released Israeli hostages have already been transferred to a hospital via vehicle.

"We are proud and excited to bring our sisters and brothers home," said a spokesperson for the IAF pilots that flew the hostages to Israel today. "We will continue until all the hostages are returned."

Biden gives thanks for release of hostages; 'so far it's gone well'

The day after Thanksgiving, Biden made a point of articulating his gratitude for the completion of the first phase of the hostages-for-prisoners swap.

"Today, let's continue to be thankful for all the families who are now, and those who will soon be, brought together," he said. He also thanked the emir of Qatar, the Egyptian president and the Israeli prime minister "for their partnership to make what we've done so far possible and for their continued leadership as we all keep working to implement this deal."

Still, Biden was clear that there is a long way to go before even the four-day pause in hostilities can be deemed a full success.

"It's only a start," he said, "but so far it's gone well."

Biden: 'I only trust Hamas to respond to pressure'

Biden said he's not relying on Hamas' intentions to drive negotiations for the release of hostages.

"I don’t trust Hamas to do anything right," said Biden, who noted that he has had discussions with the leaders of Qatar, Egypt and Israel to put the deal in place. "I only trust Hamas to respond to pressure." 

Biden says size of next group of hostages to be released will be known in next hour

President Biden said that the size of the next batch of hostages will be known in the next hour — adding that the U.S. doesn't know the locations and conditions of all of those being held by Hamas.

"In the next hour or so, we’ll know what the second wave of releases are and I’m hopeful," Biden said.

'We are committed to the return of all our hostages,' Netanyahu says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he is committed to seeing that all hostages are released, calling it a goal of the war.

"We have now completed the return of the first of our hostages," he said in a statement. "Children, their mothers and other women. Each and every one of them is a whole world. But I emphasize to you — the families, and to you — the citizens of Israel, we are committed to the return of all our hostages."

"This is one of the goals of the war and we are committed to achieving all the goals of the war," he continued.

Qatar's chief negotiator 'hopeful' U.S. hostages will be released soon

Mohammed al-Khulaifi.
Mohammed al-Khulaifi.Dean Taylor / NBC News

DOHA — Qatar’s chief negotiator in the cease-fire talks told NBC News today that he was “hopeful” that American citizens held hostage by Hamas would be released in the upcoming days.  

Mohammed al-Khulaifi, who serves as the country’s minister of state at the Foreign Ministry, said he was “expecting another list of hostages” for release tomorrow. 

He added that he was “hopeful” that in the upcoming days at least four U.S. citizens, “women and children,” would be freed.

“We are not going to rest in Doha until we make sure that all civilians, included in that specific category, are included in the process of moving and released out of the staging area,” al-Khulaifi also said.   

However, he noted that there is “no priority for a list to include citizens from a certain country. That is the impression we received and we want everyone to leave.” 

“Our aim is not to distinguish specifically from one citizen to another based on race, religion or nationality,” the minister added.

IDF says Israeli woman thought to be killed is among released hostages

A Israeli woman in her mid-to-late 70s thought to have been killed is alive and among the 13 hostages freed today, an IDF spokesperson said. Hanna Katzir was abducted from her home in the Kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct. 7, when her husband, Rami, was killed.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed in the organization’s Telegram channel on Tuesday that Katzir was dead, blaming the loss of her life on "the enemy's procrastination." Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a militant group in Gaza.

But after 49 days in captivity, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari announced today that the woman has been freed.

Liat Bell Sommer, a spokeswoman for the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, said Katzir is mother to three children and has six grandchildren. She and her husband were inseparable, Sommer said.

Palestinians await the release of detainees from Israel

People gathered today on a hill overlooking the Israeli Ofer military facility in Baytunia, in the occupied West Bank, as they awaited the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for hostages freed from Gaza.

Image: PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-PRISONERS
JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP - Getty Images
Image: PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-PRISONERS
JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP - Getty Images

Crowds react to news of hostage release in Tel Aviv

Crowds including the families of Israelis held hostage in Gaza gathered outside the Museum of Tel Aviv today. As news of the deal filtered through, many applauded.

Hostage release reaction Israel Awaits Hostage Return On First Day Of Truce With Hamas
Alexi J. Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Israel releases details of the 13 hostages freed today

The Israeli government has released the names of the 13 Israeli hostages freed today. They include five women in their 70s, an 85-year-old, and four children between 2 and 9 years old.

They are: Doron Katz-Asher, 34; Raz Asher, 4; Aviv Asher, 2; Danielle Aloni, 45; Amelia Aloni, 5; Ruth Munder, 78; Keren Monder, 54; Ohad Monder, 9; Adina Moshe, 72; Hana Katzir, 76; Margalit Mozes, 77; Hanna Perry, 79; and Yaffe Adar, 85.

According to the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, many of the hostages appear to have been taken from the same kibbutz, Nir Oz.

In addition to the 13 Israeli hostages, 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino were released by Hamas, according to Qatar, though their identities have not been made public.

13 Israeli hostages now back in the country and have undergone initial medical exam, IDF says

TEL AVIV — The 13 released Israeli hostages are now back in Israel with special forces soldiers, the country's military has said.

"The released hostages underwent an initial medical assessment inside Israeli territory. They will continue to be accompanied by IDF soldiers as they make their way to Israeli hospitals, where they will be reunited with their families," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

"The IDF, together with the entire Israeli security establishment, will continue operating until all the hostages are returned home," it added.

39 Palestinian women and children released from Israeli prisons, Qatar says

Thirty-nine Palestinian women and children have been released from Israeli prisons as part of the truce deal between Israel and Hamas, a spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry said on X.

Dr. Majed Al-Ansari said it was part of the “implementation of the commitments of the first day of the agreement," which Qatar helped broker.

Number of hostages released today is 24, Qatar and Red Cross say

The number of hostages released by Hamas today is 24 — 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and one Filipino — the spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry has said.

The hostages were transferred to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which said it was "relieved to confirm the safe release of 24 hostages."

Earlier this afternoon, the Thai prime minister announced that 12 Thai nationals were released, taking the total number of freed hostages to 25. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear and the situation remains fluid.

Red Cross has started facilitating the transfer of hostages and detainees to their families

According to a statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross, teams from the organization have started "a multi-day operation to facilitate the release and transfer of hostages held in Gaza and of Palestinian detainees to the West Bank."

In addition to the prisoner exchange, the ICRC said the operation will include the delivery of additional, much-needed humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Israeli hostages met with smiles from soldiers and noise-canceling headphones

TEL AVIV — Soldiers who came into contact with the child hostages freed from Gaza were told by the Israeli military to uncover their faces and smile at them.

The Israel Defense Forces also provided the newly released with noise-canceling headphones. It is expected the hostages will be flown to Israel’s Hatzerim Airbase, where they will receive medical care, cellphones to call their family members and mental health support, according to the Israeli military.

The hostages were with the Red Cross after being freed from Gaza, a regional diplomat with knowledge of the situation told NBC News. An IDF source also said they were released and had been transferred to Egypt.

White House says it's 'working by the hour' to get Americans freed

The White House issued a statement after the release of hostages: “We’re glad to see the process moving forward. Working by the hour to get those Americans included in this first group of 50, including little Abigail who turns 4 today."

President Joe Biden was briefed by Jake Sullivan on the hostage release, a senior White House official said.

13 hostages freed under cease-fire deal, sources say

More than seven weeks after they were captured during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, 13 hostages were freed from Gaza as part of a hard-won deal.

The hostages were with the Red Cross after being freed from Gaza, a regional diplomat with knowledge of the situation told NBC News. An IDF source also said they were released and had been transferred to Egypt.

They were then expected to be flown to Israel’s Hatzerim Airbase where they will receive medical care, cellphones to call their family members and mental health support, according to the Israeli military.

Their release came as part of a deal that included a prisoner swap for Palestinians held in Israeli detention. Israel’s aerial and ground assault on Gaza has also been paused for at least four days under the deal.

It is a landmark moment in the conflict, the result of tireless diplomacy involving the United States, Egypt and Qatar, and a breakthrough for some of the captives’ families who have campaigned unrelentingly for their release. For the relatives of those left in Gaza, the wait continues.

Israel warns war is not over in leaflets dropped over Gaza

Israel has warned that the war is not over despite the temporary pause in fighting and the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas.

In leaflets dropped over the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces told Palestinians to stay where they are and to avoid the dangerous warzone to the north.

Vigil for hostages held by relatives in Tel Aviv

Image: Israel Awaits Hostage Return On First Day Of Truce With Hamas
Alexi J. Rosenfeld / Getty Images
Image: Israel Awaits Hostage Return On First Day Of Truce With Hamas
Alexi J. Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Families of hostages held in Gaza participate in a special Shabbat prayer service in Tel Aviv today, ahead of the release of some of them.

Image: Israel Awaits Hostage Return On First Day Of Truce With Hamas
Alexi J. Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Transfer of Israeli hostages set to begin any moment

The planned transfer of the first 13 Israeli hostages out of Gaza is set to begin any time now.

Egyptian authorities are preparing the Rafah border crossing to receive the detainees released by Hamas, according to Diaa Rashwan, head of the Egyptian State Information Service. From there they will be transferred to southern Israel.

The process for releasing 39 Palestinian women and teenage boys detained in Israeli prisons started earlier today.

12 hostages from Thailand have been released, prime minister says

Twelve Thai hostages under Hamas custody have been released from Gaza, the country's prime minister said on X today.

Srettha Thavisin said their release had been confirmed by Thailand's foreign ministry and the country's security department.

"Embassy officials are on their way to pick them up," he wrote. This is separate to the deal for 13 Israeli hostages to be released, which is expected to take place imminently.

American hostages not expected to be released today: WH official

No American citizens who were taken hostage from Israel on Oct. 7 look set to be released today, a senior White House official told NBC News.

“We do not expect Americans to be among the first group released today but remain hopeful that there will be Americans among the 50 released,” the official said.

Three Americans, including a girl named Abigail who turned 4 today, are thought to be part of the group that could be released as part of the four-day truce between Israel and Hamas.

Despite respite from bombardment, Gaza far from quiet

In southern Gaza, the usual din of Israeli bombardment was replaced this morning with the clamor of people on the move. Many families in the city of Khan Younis were using the first peaceful morning in seven weeks as an opportunity to pick through the rubble of their lives. 

“We are on our way to Khuza’a to see what happened to our home,” one woman, Suhaila Abu Al-Jal, told NBC News as she walked among crowds through the destroyed buildings. Khuza’a is a neighborhood to the east of the city, near the border with Israel.

“We pray to God to give us patience,” she said. Because “we do not want this truce: We want it to last forever.”

Clean clothes and children’s toys await freed captives in Israel

TEL AVIV — Israel has made preparations to receive the initial group of hostages set to be released from Gaza as part of the hostage deal announced yesterday.

Seven weeks after they were captured from Israel on Oct. 7, the hostages will leave Gaza into Egypt, before being transferred to Hatzerim Airbase in southern Israel. The Israel Defense Force released video and photographs showing its pop-up welcome center at the airbase, including medical checks and psychological support, clean clothes, phones to contact family members and toys for children.

Israel Defense Forces

They will then go by helicopter or bus to Israeli hospitals where they will be reunited with family members. Those who need immediate medical treatment will go straight to the hospital, the IDF said.Photos released by the IDF of their preparations to receive the hostages appear to show headphones laid out inside military helicopter (above). At a makeshift reception area, rugs and pillows are arranged on the floor with cuddly toys for children, as well as water bottles and magazines.

Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces

Israel has begun the transfer of Palestinian prisoners

JERUSALEM —  The first group of Palestinian security prisoners are leaving Damon and Megiddo prisons in northern Israel, and are now in the process of being transferred to Ofer military jail in the West Bank, Israel Prisoner Service told NBC News.

As part of the deal agreed with Hamas, Israel is set to release 39 prisoners today including 24 women and 15 teenage boys, the Palestinian commissioner for prisoners confirmed to NBC News.

They are scheduled to be exchanged for 13 hostages who were captured in Israel on Oct. 7 and had been held in Gaza, Qadura Fares said.

The Palestinian inmates are all from the occupied West Bank or Jerusalem. The International Committee of the Red Cross will handle the handover at Ofer military jail around 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET), Fares told Reuters.

Officials have said that in total, they expect 50 captives to be freed from Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinians held in Israeli detention.

AP: Two Gazans shot by Israeli forces

The Associated Press is reporting that Israeli troops have fatally shot two Palestinians and wounded 11 others who were headed back toward northern Gaza, the center of Israel’s military campaign which it had warned them to avoid.

Palestinians injured by Israeli forces trying to cross back in to northern Gaza
A Palestinian man, wounded by the Israeli army as he tried to cross back to the northern Gaza Strip is brought to al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah today.Adel Hana / AP

An Associated Press journalist said they saw the two bodies and the wounded as they arrived at a hospital in Deir al-Balah, a town in the southern half of Gaza. The injured had been shot in the legs.

Israel has dropped leaflets in Gaza warning Palestinians that the truce is only temporary and not to move back up north. However the AP says it has seen hundreds of Palestinians trying to head back up there during the pause in fighting.

'I hope this is real': Hostage deal raises hopes in rural Thai village

DONPILA, Thailand — All eyes will be on Israel and Gaza on Friday, but when the Hamas militant group releases the first of 50 hostages in a cease-fire deal, there will also be renewed hope in this rural village in northeastern Thailand.

Anucha Angkaew’s family hopes it means he will soon be released as well, some seven weeks after he is believed to have been abducted from the kibbutz where he was working in southern Israel.

About two dozen of the estimated 240 hostages being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip are from Thailand, one of Israel’s biggest sources of migrant labor. Thailand also has among the highest death tolls in the conflict of any foreign country, with 39 of its citizens killed.

“I hope this is real news and Art is coming back to our family soon,” Anucha’s mother, Watsana Yojampa, said Wednesday after hearing about the Israel-Hamas agreement, referring to him by his nickname. 

Read the full story.

IDF says it destroyed tunnel beneath Al-Shifa Hospital, now in defensive positions for pause

The Israel Defense Forces says it has dug into defense positions in Gaza for the temporary cessation of fighting agreed with Hamas.

Ahead of the pause, the IDF posted on X, its soldiers destroyed tunnels used by Hamas “in the area of” the Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s main medical center, which Israel says has been used as a headquarters by the militant group.

“In addition, over the last day, our troops struck various terrorist targets from the land, air and sea,” it said.

Earlier this week, Israel released footage of what it said was a tunnel underneath Al-Shifa Hospital being used by Hamas, after condemnation of Israeli attacks that have killed doctors, patients and civilians who had sought shelter there. Hamas and doctors deny the hospital is used by the militant group.

'The war isn't over yet:' IDF warns Gazans not to return north

The Israeli military has dropped leaflets over Gaza and released a video this morning warning Palestinians that “the war isn’t over yet” and not to return to their homes in the north of the strip despite the cease-fire.

“The humanitarian pause is temporary and the northern area is a dangerous war zone and movement isn’t allowed,” the leaflets said in Arabic. “Yours and your family’s fate is in your hands. You have been warned.”

Palestinians attempt to cross back in to northern Gaza
Palestinians try to cross back into northern Gaza as an Israeli tank blocks the Salah al-Din road on Friday.Hatem Moussa / AP

Avichay Adraee, the IDF’s spokesman for Arab media, posted a video to X giving the same message as the leaflets, which ended: “Yours and your family’s fate is in your hands. You have been warned.”

The military told Palestinians that “for your safety, you need to stay in the humanitarian area in the south of the Gaza Strip.” However, Israel has been criticized by Palestinians and international human rights organizations because, despite telling people to flee to the south, it has also been bombing there too.

Fuel trucks enter Gaza as part of deal to pause fighting

At least seven tankers carrying fuel and cooking gas and around 200 trucks of humanitarian aid have entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt as part of the deal agreed by Israel and Hamas, the Israeli military and the Red Crescent said.

Israel stopped fuel entering Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, saying it could be used to launch missiles and operate tunnel ventilation. Israel has been under increasing pressure, including from the United States, to allow more fuel and aid into the enclave as it has lurched further into a humanitarian crisis.

Fuel Delivered to Gaza
An Egyptian truck delivering fuel to the Gaza Strip waits at the Rafah border crossing on Wednesday.AP

On Friday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said eight trucks entered Gaza from Egypt, destined for United Nations humanitarian aid organizations "operating essential humanitarian infrastructure" in the south of the strip where many Gazans have fled the intense fighting in the north.

Raed Abdel Nasser, secretary general of the Red Crescent in Egypt's North Sinai, put the number of fuel trucks at seven. He told NBC News that 200 aid trucks had also crossed, along with a number of Gazans who had been stranded on the Egyptian side. Foreigners and dual nationals, including 17 injured people and five cancer patients, went the other way, he said.

Israeli tanks return from Gaza

A convoy of Israeli military tanks and armored personnel carriers leave Gaza and cross back into southern Israel this morning, during the temporary cease-fire which began today.

A convoy of Israeli military tanks and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) drives by Israel's border after leaving Gaza during the temporary truce between Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Israel, in Israel
Amir Cohen / Reuters

‘Every deal opens door to next deal’: Hostage families back truce

Gil Dickmann, whose cousin was taken by Hamas on October 7, said that all Israelis want to see all the hostages back home as soon as possible.

“And I don’t think that there’s a price that should not be paid for this,” he said.

Thailand welcomes truce amid hopes for Thai hostages

Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomed the Israel-Hamas truce and hopes that Thai nationals being held hostage will also soon be released.

“Thailand fervently hopes that this momentum can be maintained so that the remaining hostages, which include Thai nationals, are released at the earliest opportunity,” the ministry said in a statement today.

About two dozen of the estimated 240 hostages being held by Hamas are from Thailand, one of Israel’s biggest sources of migrant labor. Thailand also has among the highest death tolls in the conflict of any foreign country, with 39 of its citizens killed.

Hostage deal exposes tensions between Israel’s far-right and hostage families

In the push and pull between Israel’s two stated war goals — destroy Hamas and free the hostages held in Gaza — this week the needle swung toward the latter, temporarily at least, with an agreement to pause the fighting and swap prisoners.

It’s been welcomed across much of Israel and internationally, a chance not only to secure the release of some women and children snatched from Israel on Oct. 7, but also to pause the fighting in the Gaza Strip that has so far killed more than 14,000 people.

But even in Israel, a country united in grief and defiance by Hamas’ terror attacks, the deal exposed divisions in how to balance the two goals. Hard-right members of the Israeli government are opposed to any cessation in fighting, while the victims’ families who welcomed the deal are calling for a longer pause to free more people.

It is a tension that’s pulling national opinion to extremes. 

Read the full story.

Palestinians return to their homes in southern Gaza as cease-fire begins

A four-day truce in the Israel-Hamas war began on November 24, with hostages set to be released in exchange for prisoners in the first major reprieve in seven weeks of war that have claimed thousands of lives.
Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images

Children look out from the window of a car as Palestinians who had taken refuge in temporary shelters return to their homes in Khan Younis, southern Gaza this morning.A four-day truce began today, with hostages set to be released in exchange for prisoners in the first major reprieve in seven weeks of war that have claimed thousands of lives.

A four-day truce in the Israel-Hamas war began on November 24, with hostages set to be released in exchange for prisoners in the first major reprieve in seven weeks of war that have claimed thousands of lives.
Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images

Truce seems to hold after early rocket sirens in southern Israel

So far the pause in fighting seems to have been largely observed.

Israeli forces were striking Gaza heavily until right up to the deadline, and sirens warning of incoming rocket fire sounded in southern Israeli communities about 15 minutes after the truce was due to begin, but no major fighting appears to be taking place now two hours in.

What it took to get this point

It took weeks of secret negotiations involving U.S., Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials, the heads of the CIA and the Mossad, and the personal intervention of President Joe Biden to convince a reluctant Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a four-day cease-fire that is expected to free 50 hostages from Hamas.

The negotiations, while ultimately successful, revealed the vast challenges that remain in freeing all of the roughly 240 captives seized during the group’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel.

Throughout the talks, Hamas officials maintained that they had taken captive only about 70 Israeli soldiers and 50 women and children, according to a diplomat in the region with knowledge of the negotiations.

Hamas officials said the whereabouts of as many as 100 other captives are unknown but they are pursuing leads. The group claimed that “some Israelis were kidnapped by individual Palestinian gangs or smugglers,” according to the diplomat.

The final agreement — the outlines of which had been on the table for weeks — wouldn’t have been accepted by Netanyahu without enormous pressure from Biden, according to a senior Israeli government official.

“This deal was a Biden deal, not a Netanyahu deal,” the official said.

Read the full story here.

Displaced Gazan family says pause needs to become a full end to fighting

Alaa and Omar Al Salawat are staying at a camp for displaced Gazans in Khan Younis. Both expressed a desire to see a lasting peace in the war between Israel and Hamas.

“We just want a life without war,” Alaa said. “We’ve had enough of war.”

Pause in fighting set to begin ahead of hostage release

The first pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas is set to begin now, a diplomatic breakthrough that is set to see the release of 13 hostages from Gaza later this morning in exchange for Palestinians in Israeli jails.

Much still remains to be seen, including whether both sides will adhere to the deal that was painstakingly negotiated for weeks and brokered by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt.

For Gazans, a four-day pause could provide a crucial respite from Israeli bombardment and allow much-needed aid to enter to the battered Palestinian enclave. For the families of Israeli hostages, the next few days could see emotional reunions and the hope that more may follow.