200 humanitarian trucks entered the Gaza Strip from the Rafah crossing on the first day of the truce

The truce in Gaza is progressing smoothly as the prisoner exchange process begins

The humanitarian truce had its first day in the Gaza Strip and continued smoothly and calmly after 48 days of continuous and unabated bombing, killing and destruction.

As Gazans breathed a sigh of relief, Hamas released 13 detained Israeli women and children, as well as 10 Thais and one Filipino citizen, and handed them over to the Red Cross, which in turn handed them over to Egypt before Israel would receive them. In exchange, Tel Aviv released 39 captive women and children late Friday, an agreement that forms the main clause of the truce.

Hamas pledged to hand over Israeli women and children at 4pm on Friday, at a time when Israel had rounded up 39 Palestinian prisoners in Ofer Prison for their release, including 24 female prisoners from Damon Prison and 15 “prisoners” of Megiddo prison. according to the exchange agreement, which provides for the release of 3 Palestinians for every Israeli.

Part of the transfer of hostages released by Hamas at the Rafah crossing on Friday (Reuters)

In addition to the exchange deal with Israel, Hamas released 10 Thai citizens and one Filipino citizen, in a separate deal that had nothing to do with Israel, and was sponsored by Qatar.

Fighters from Hamas and other factions brought to the Gaza Strip the Thai workers who were in the Gaza area when the Hamas attack began on October 7, without verifying their identities.

Although the 13 Israelis among them have dual citizenship, the first group did not include any American hostages, and more groups are expected to include them in the next three days.

Israeli police officers at the entrance to Ofer prison before starting to free Palestinian prisoners on Friday (dpa)

According to the truce agreement, Hamas is expected to release 50 Israeli women and children in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners within 4 days from Friday, every 13 days from Gaza, in exchange for 39 Palestinian prisoners. Then the truce can be extended if Hamas is able to hand over prisoners other than those agreed upon, who are prisoners of factions and other parties in Gaza, an additional day of respite is granted for every 10 new prisoners.

In the operation, which Israel called “Gates of Paradise”, 13 Israeli prisoners were taken in under a severe blackout and transported by 4 helicopters to 4 hospitals for examinations, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Galant and National Minister Security Council President Tzachi Hanegbi was following the operation from the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv. The Shin Bet is expected to interrogate them at a later date about the conditions of their detention.

Widespread destruction in the first days of the truce in Gaza City (AP)

Israeli sources said that after receiving the detainees on Friday, they are waiting for a list from Hamas of the names who will be released on Saturday. After Israel received its prisoners, the Palestinians were forced to wait several hours before their prisoners were released.

Israeli forces prevented Palestinians from gathering at points near Ofer prison, near Ramallah, and fired bullets and gas bombs at them, wounding two boys. The prisoner exchange is the basis of the current humanitarian truce, which also included the introduction of aid and fuel trucks, and the cessation of operations and military flights in the skies of Gaza.

Buildings destroyed following Israeli raids on Gaza City (AP)

On Friday, truckloads of food and medical aid, fuel and cooking gas flowed into the southern Gaza Strip, and then into the northern Gaza Strip. Planes stopped flying in the southern Gaza Strip and refrained from flying for 6 hours in the northern Gaza Strip. , from 10:00 to 16:00, according to the terms of the agreement.

The occupation army had warned residents and displaced people of the southern areas of the Gaza Strip not to head to the northern areas and Gaza City during the temporary humanitarian truce, as they are considered dangerous combat zones and that the war is not over. The Israeli army has maintained its presence in large areas of the northern Gaza Strip, and has withdrawn from other areas, in a repositioning, after having intensified bombing before the truce took effect, and blown up the tunnels under the “Al-Shifa” medical complex. in the city of Gaza.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen confirmed that his government will resume the war against the Gaza Strip after the end of the truce, until the Hamas movement is liquidated and all Israeli prisoners are restored.

But the head of Hamas’s political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, has pledged to break up Israel. Haniyeh said: “The resistance was able to confront the occupation, break its will and thwart its plans despite great pain,” adding in a speech recorded on Friday: “We will not leave our positions nor abandon our responsibilities towards our people before, during and after the battle, and we affirm our adherence to the unity of the people, the land and the destiny”.

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