Pro-Palestinian Rally Takes Place in Casablanca, Morocco.

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Hamas militants released a third group of hostages, including a four-year-old American girl, on the third day of a truce with Israel. The transfers occurred under a four-day truce that began on Friday, providing the first relief for captives’ families since the militant group attacked Israel on October 7, leading to devastating Israeli bombardments of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials reported that a total of 17 hostages were back on Israeli territory after the latest release, with one elderly hostage admitted to the hospital due to life-threatening conditions. US President Joe Biden announced the release of the four-year-old American girl, Abigail, who had experienced a traumatic ordeal after her parents were killed by Hamas during the attacks. Along with 13 Israelis, four others, including three Thais, were released outside the terms of the truce.

Additionally, a Russian-Israeli hostage, Ron Krivoy, was freed “in response to the efforts of Russian President Vladimir Putin” and his “support of the Palestinian cause”. These releases were part of a larger group captured when Hamas fighters broke through Gaza’s militarized border with Israel, resulting in the deadliest attack in the country’s history. The militants killed about 1,200 Israelis and foreigners, according to Israeli authorities.

In response, Israel launched an air, artillery, and naval bombardment alongside a ground offensive, resulting in the deaths of nearly 15,000 people, mostly civilians, including thousands of children, according to the Hamas government in Gaza. The releases on Sunday brought the total number of Israelis freed under the deal to 39 since Friday. In exchange, a further 39 Palestinian prisoners were freed on Sunday, following the release of 78 other Palestinian inmates from Israeli jails over the past two days. On Friday, Hamas released 10 other Thais and a Filipino in a surprise move separate from the main deal.

Israel has faced mounting pressure to extend the four-day pause mediated by Qatar, the United States, and Egypt. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and US President Joe Biden expressed hopes for the extension of the truce until all hostages, including French nationals, are freed.

A source close to Hamas indicated the willingness of the Islamist movement to prolong the pause, with the possibility of ensuring the release of 20 to 40 Israeli prisoners in that time. However, Israeli leaders have tempered hopes of a lasting halt to the offensive, vowing to continue until victory. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “We continue until the end — until victory,” during his visit to Gaza, emphasizing the determination to achieve all the war’s goals.

The pause in fighting has allowed more aid to reach Palestinians struggling with shortages of water and other essentials, but there are still significant humanitarian needs in the region. The UN estimates that 1.7 million of Gaza’s 2.4 million people have been displaced by the fighting.

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