In a significant development, Hamas militants have released two elderly Israeli women held in Gaza on “humanitarian grounds,” according to on-the-ground footage. Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, were among the 222 confirmed captives taken during Hamas’ audacious cross-border attack on October 7.
The release of Cooper and Lifshitz signals potential progress in the ongoing efforts to free over 200 individuals seized in the deadly raid into Israel earlier this month. Reports from the region suggest that up to 50 more hostages may be freed in the near future, with diplomatic initiatives gaining momentum.
Hamas, through its armed wing, attributed the release to Qatari-Egyptian mediation, highlighting the humanitarian basis for their decision. Previously, an American mother and her daughter were released in a similar deal mediated by Qatar and Egypt.
Cooper and Lifshitz, now in the care of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), are on their way home. Regrettably, their husbands remain in captivity, underscoring the complexity of the situation.
Families of the hostages, along with concerned governments and organizations, are closely monitoring the situation. Their hopes for a peaceful resolution have been raised, with calls for a focus on negotiations over potential ground invasions.
The release of hostages comes amidst escalating tensions in the region, with Israel continuing its bombardment campaign, resulting in significant casualties on both sides. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded the unconditional release of all hostages, further complicating the situation.
US and European officials have urged caution in launching a ground invasion, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing negotiations for the hostages’ safe return. As Israel maintains its aerial assault, experts suggest that negotiations may be the key to securing the freedom of the remaining captives.
Meanwhile, Iran has issued a warning to the US and Israel, cautioning that the conflict could escalate further if strikes on Gaza are not immediately halted.