Hamas released two hostages, Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz, on Monday. These women were abducted from their homes in Kibbutz Nir Oz, an Israeli community near the Gaza border, on October 7. Cooper and Lifshitz were taken along with their husbands, who have not been released.
According to a message from a Hamas-affiliated Telegram channel, the release of these two hostages was facilitated for humanitarian reasons, with mediation by Qatar and Egypt. The International Committee of the Red Cross also played a role in their release.
The Israeli Defense Forces reported that 222 hostages were taken during Hamas’ attack on October 7, with some of them being under the age of 18 and others over the age of 80.
The first two hostages released on Friday were Judith and Natalie Raanan, dual U.S.-Israeli citizens. They were taken from Gaza by the International Committee of the Red Cross and reunited with their family in Israel.
The United States has been actively involved in efforts to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas. President Biden has emphasized the importance of this issue, and the U.S. government has sought to prioritize the release of hostages and the distribution of aid.
Both the National Security Council and the State Department have been engaged in ongoing efforts to locate and secure the release of the remaining hostages. As of now, there are still about 10 Americans whose whereabouts are unaccounted for.
In response to inquiries about negotiations, the U.S. government stated that they have not provided any concessions or released any prisoners in exchange for the hostages’ release. They have called on Hamas to release the hostages, emphasizing that innocent civilians should not be held as hostages.