According to Reuters, the armed branch of the Palestinian Hamas terrorist organization stated on Monday that it has freed two additional female civilian hostages for health reasons in response to Egyptian-Qatari mediation efforts.
“We decided to release them for humanitarian and poor health reasons,” stated Abu Ubaida, spokesperson for the armed wing, in a Telegram statement. The two were identified as Nurit Yitzhak and Yocheved Lifshitz.
On Friday, the armed wing freed an American mother and daughter, Judith and Natalie Raanan, nearly two weeks after Hamas militants launched a cross-border raid on Oct. 7, murdering 1,400 people and kidnapping more than 200.
On Monday, Israel’s Channel 12 reported that the third and fourth captives had been released and that their families had been notified. According to Egypt’s national news agency, the two entered at the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt.
Israeli officials had no quick response.
On Monday, Israel bombed hundreds of sites in Gaza from the air while Israeli forces engaged Hamas terrorists during assaults into the beleaguered Palestinian territory. Casualties are high, and people are trapped in perilous conditions.
According to Gaza’s health ministry, 436 Palestinians have been killed in bombardments in the last 24 hours, with the majority dead in the south of the small, densely populated region, where Israeli troops and tanks have massed for a probable ground assault.
Over the course of 24 hours, Israel’s military said it had targeted over 320 targets in Gaza, including a tunnel sheltering Hamas troops, dozens of command and observation stations, and mortar and anti-tank missile launcher sites.
The Israeli bombardment was provoked by the Oct. 7 attack, which was the worst incident in a single day since Israel’s founding 75 years ago.
With Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants in need of basic necessities, European leaders were poised to join the United States and Arab states in asking for a “humanitarian pause” in hostilities to allow relief to reach them.
According to State Department spokeswoman Matthew Miller, a US special envoy is working with Israel, Egypt, and the UN to establish a “sustained delivery mechanism” to send supplies into Gaza after relief convoys began flowing into the strip from Egypt.
The United Nations said desperate Gazans also lacked cover from the incessant shelling that has devastated large swaths of the Hamas-ruled territory.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasized the need for a multilateral approach to resolving the dispute, saying the US has not presented any fresh proposals.