Hamas has released two American hostages.
Mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Raanan were visiting Israel from Chicago when Hamas took them hostage on 7 October. Hamas took about 200 others as well as part of its attack on Israel. They are the first to be freed.
Israel responded to Hamas’ initial attack by launching a “siege” of Gaza – which is governed by Hamas – until all hostages are returned.
Following the release of the two hostages, U.S. President Joe Biden said: “We have been working around the clock to free American citizens who were taken hostage by Hamas, and we have not ceased our efforts to secure the release of those who are still being held.”
Their release was mediated by Qatar. A spokesperson for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “We will continue our dialogue with both the Israelis and Hamas, and we hope these efforts will lead to the release of all civilian hostages from every nationality.”
It comes as 20 trucks of aid are set to enter Gaza from Egypt. The U.S. brokered a deal between Israel and Egypt to secure the aid.
At the time of writing, the aid hasn’t entered Gaza. Egypt’s Rafah crossing is still closed while final details are negotiated.
The WHO has said 20 trucks will be a “drop in the ocean” of the scale of aid needed in Gaza.
Conflict between Israel and Hamas
Fighting between Israel and Hamas has continued to intensify following Hamas’ unprecedented attack. Israel declared war in response.
According to Israeli authorities, Hamas has killed at least 1,400 people, including civilians.
According to the United Nations, Israel has killed at least 3,700 people, including civilians.