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39 more Palestinian prisoners released after Hamas frees 13 Israeli captives, 4 foreigners

Released Palestinian prisoners are seen inside a vehicle after leaving the Israeli military prison, Ofer, amid a prisoner swap deal between Hamas and the regime, near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on November 26, 2023. (via Reuters)

The Israeli regime has released a second batch of 39 Palestinian prisoners under a swap deal with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas as a temporary ceasefire continues across the besieged Gaza Strip following nearly seven weeks of Israeli attacks.

The regime's prison officials said Palestinian prisoners were released early Sunday, with subsequent footage showing them welcomed home by fellow Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of East al-Quds.

Qatar's Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari had said ahead of the exchange that in the second phase of the swap deal, 39 Palestinian prisoners would be released by Israel. They included 33 youths, who had been captured by Israeli forces when they were children, and six women.

Their release came after Hamas freed 13 Israeli captives, including  six women and seven children and teenagers, in addition to four Thai citizens.

Under the prisoner swap deal, which was mediated by Qatar and Egypt, during the four-day truce in Gaza, at least 50 Israeli captives are expected to be freed. In exchange, 150 Palestinian prisoners are to be released, all women and children.

The temporary ceasefire entered into force on Friday, after Israel's latest aggression against Gaza killed nearly 15,000 Palestinians. Israel's genocidal war began on October 7 after the territory's resistance groups launched Operation al-Aqsa Storm into the occupied territories.

Hamas and Israel carried out the first phase of the prisoner swap deal on Friday. It saw 39 Palestinian female and child prisoners released from Israel's Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank. In return, 13 women and children, some holding dual citizenship, were released by Hamas in addition to 10 Thai captives and one Filipino.

The second phase of the prisoner swap came after an hours-long delay, which Hamas said was due to the Israeli regime's violation of the terms of the truce deal.

According to al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, the delay was caused by Israel not holding up its end of the deal on issues such as easing the delivery of humanitarian aid and fuel to Gaza as well as halting gunfire that, the brigades said, led to more deaths and injuries among civilians.

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