A new group of hostages were freed Tuesday from Gaza captivity in exchange for Palestinian prisoners under an extended truce, as mediators worked for a lasting halt to the seven-week Israel-Hamas war.
Ten Israelis and two foreigners were handed over to the Red Cross and were "inside Israeli territory", the army said.
Masked and armed fighters, some from Hamas and others from Islamic Jihad, handed over the released hostages to Red Cross officials in Rafah, near the border with Egypt.
The ten Israeli hostages released from Gaza Tuesday consist of one minor and nine women including an Austrian citizen, two Argentinians, and a Filipino Qatar's foreign ministry spokesmanDr Majed al-Ansari,posted on messaging platform X.
"In implementation of the commitment to the 5th day of the humanitarian pause, 30 Palestinian civilians will be released today," Ansari said, adding the prisoners have been handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"Palestinians released from Israeli prisons include 15 minors and 15 women," Dr al-Ansari added.
International figures hailed the pause in hostilities and releases of captives as a cause for hope in the conflict.
Israel and Hamas accused each other of violating the extended pause in incidents ,though Qatari officials mediating in the conflict said this did not knock the truce off track.
As a two-day extension to the truce appeared to be holding , US and Israeli intelligence chiefsdiscussed the "next phase" of the deal, a source briefed on their visit said.
Israel and Hamas are under international pressure not to return to all-out fighting when the latest truce ends on Thursday.
Israel's ground and air operation in the Gaza Strip has killed almost 15,000 people, mostly civilians, according to the territory's Hamas government.
Dr Majed al-Ansari reported "some minimal breaches" which, he told a news conference, "did not harm the essence of the agreement".
He said that his government would use the extension to work for a "sustainable truce".
The discussions aim "to build on the progress of the extended humanitarian pause agreement and to initiate further discussions about the next phase of a potential deal," the source added.
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