The Hamas terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip released two more hostages on Monday, both women, the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed.
“The ICRC facilitated the release of two more hostages by transporting them out of Gaza this evening,” the organization confirmed in a statement, adding: “We are glad that these persons will be soon reunited with their families and loved ones.”
According to Ynet, the Israeli government confirmed that the two were transferred to the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing.
“This is not a deal; it’s a unilateral move we had no part in,” Israel’s Channel 12 cited political officials in Jerusalem as saying.
The released hostages were identified by Hamas as Nurit Yitzhak (Cooper), 80, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85—both from Kibbutz Nir Oz near the border with Gaza. Their husbands remain captive in the Strip.
Both women reportedly only hold Israeli citizenship, although Lifshitz has family in Canada.
Earlier on Monday, The New York Times reported that Qatar and the United States were negotiating the release of abductees with dual nationality separately from those who have only Israeli citizenship.
Senior Israeli officials have consistently denied involvement in any kind of negotiations related to the release of the Israeli captives.
“Israel will not be a party to a ‘selection’ for holders of foreign passports for release,” a diplomatic source inside the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office was quoted as saying on Monday.
Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Monday that the military has so far confirmed that terrorists kidnapped 222 persons during Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, in which 1,400 people were massacred in Israel and more than 4,500 were wounded.
On Friday, the terror group freed the first two hostages for what it called “humanitarian reasons.”
“Judith Tai Raanan and her daughter, Natalie Shoshana Raanan, were released by the terrorist organization Hamas,” the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office confirmed. The pair were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nahal Oz during the Oct. 7 invasion of the western Negev.
Also last week, Hamas released a video showing an Israeli abductee with European citizenship.
“I’m Mia Shem, 21 years old from Shoham. Currently, I’m in Gaza. I returned early Saturday morning from Sderot—I was at a party. I was seriously injured in my hand,” the woman says in the clip. She calls on Israel to “get me out of here as soon as possible.”
Shem, a dual French-Israeli national, was kidnapped while attending a music festival in the desert near Kibbutz Re’im, where Hamas gunmen murdered at least 260 festival-goers.
Among the 222 people who were taken hostage were some 20 to 30 children and 10 to 20 people over the age of 60. The hostages included citizens of eight or nine countries in addition to Israel. PJC