GAZA: Hamas and Israel on Friday said that both the parties had released hostages with 24 released by the former while Israel also reciprocated the gesture.

A total of 24 hostages — 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and one Filipino — were handed to the Red Cross in Gaza by Hamas, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman said, AFP reports.

“Those released include 13 Israeli citizens, some of whom are dual citizens, in addition to 10 Thai citizens and a Filipino citizen,” Majed Al Ansari said.

He said that 39 women and children detained in Israeli jails had also been freed under a deal to exchange hostages seized by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners.

An army of Israeli medics, child protection experts and trauma specialists were bracing to receive 13 women and children released from Gaza after weeks of Hamas captivity, AFP reports.

While their identities were not immediately made public, millions of Israelis eagerly awaited news of their return on the first day of a four-day truce and hostage swap.

Authorities were also gearing up for the complex task of helping those released to come to terms with a nearly seven-week hostage ordeal that may have left them deeply traumatised.

“Some don’t know that their significant others — their families, husbands, parents, siblings — have been murdered,” top child protection expert Sarit Sarfatti told reporters ahead of the release.

“Some don’t know that their entire community has been almost entirely annihilated. We will have to break the news to them very soon. This is something that cannot be delayed because we don’t want them to find out through rumours.”

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