Hamas Releases 2 More Hostages

Militants say Egypt, Qatar secured women's release
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2023 2:30 PM CDT
Updated Oct 23, 2023 3:15 PM CDT
Hamas Says It Released 2 More Hostages
Nurit Cooper, who was held as a hostage by Palestinian Hamas militants, is seen in this undated handout photo.   (Hostages and Missing Families Forum via AP)

This story has been updated with new developments. Hamas says it has released two more female civilian hostages on "humanitarian and poor health grounds." In a statement on Telegram, Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the group's armed wing said the women were released in response to mediation efforts from Egypt and Qatar, Reuters reports. The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed the release of two Israeli women, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz and 79-year-old Nurit Cooper, the AP reports. They were seized from their homes in a kibbutz along with their husbands, who have not been released.

The women were released at Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt, according to Egypt's state news agency. Obeida said Friday that Hamas had offered to release Yitzhak and Cooper, who also uses the name Nurit Yitzhak, for "humanitarian reasons and without compensation." He said the group offered to released the women under the same procedure it used to free two American hostages, but Israel refused to accept them, NBC News reports. At the time, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the claim "propaganda."

Hamas is believed to still be holding around 220 hostages seized in its Oct. 7 attack. According to reports in the Israeli media, a deal to free some 50 hostages with dual nationality could be imminent, reports the Guardian. Israel has stepped up airstrikes on Gaza ahead of an expected ground invasion, though the US has urged the country to delay the invasion to allow the release of more hostages, reports the AP. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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