Historic Prisoner Exchange Between Israel and Hamas

In a landmark move, Israel is set to release 39 Palestinian detainees on Friday in exchange for a group of hostages held by Hamas. The deal, facilitated by Qatar and involving a four-day pause in fighting, aims to ease tensions in the region.

The detainees, accused of offenses ranging from throwing stones to attempted murder, include 24 women and 15 individuals under 18 years old. Red Cross buses have arrived at Ofer prison in the West Bank to transfer them to an Israeli military checkpoint before allowing them to return home.

The detainees were selected from a list of 300 women and minors compiled by Israel, with less than a quarter having been convicted.

Most are held on remand while awaiting trial, and a significant number are teenage boys, including one girl and 32 women.

Families of the released detainees will gather at a nearby checkpoint to welcome their loved ones. Simultaneously, a group of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza is set to be released to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which will take them to Egypt via the Rafah border.

The Israeli military expects the hostages to arrive in Israel by 18:00 local time, where they will undergo an initial medical assessment before being reunited with their families.

The exchange is part of a broader agreement between Israel and Hamas, involving the release of 50 hostages from Gaza, a four-day pause in fighting, and the release of 150 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Additionally, there will be an increase in humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza.

Hamas had seized over 200 hostages during a cross-border attack on southern Israel on October 7, resulting in 1,200 casualties.

Human rights organizations note a significant rise in Palestinians held without charge in Israeli jails since the attack, with over 6,000 currently held on security grounds, many awaiting trial.

The exchange signifies a crucial step toward de-escalation, providing hope for improved relations between the two sides.(Source: BBC)

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