Israel Latest: Hamas Releases Two Elderly Women Seized on Oct. 7

Israel Latest: Hamas Releases Two Elderly Women Seized on Oct. 7
Israeli soldiers near the border with the Gaza Strip on Oct 22.

Hamas released two elderly women who were among the hostages taken when the militant organization attacked Israel on Oct. 7. The women reached the Rafah border crossing after their release. Qatar and Egypt were intermediaries in arranging their freedom.

The US said it will deploy more military forces to the Middle East in an effort to deter groups such as Hezbollah from trying to expand the war. Meanwhile, aid trickled into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, but the convoys are insufficient, according to the United Nations. Israel’s currency and bonds extended losses after the country’s central bank left interest rates at their highest since 2006 and lowered growth forecasts for this year and next on the fallout from the conflict with Hamas.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

Hostages Released by Hamas Were Seized When Kibbutz Was Overrun (11:15 p.m.)

The elderly women released by Hamas late Monday are Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz, who lived on the Nir Oz kibbutz, which was overrun by Hamas on Oct. 7, according to the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel. Their release came three days after Hamas released an American mother and her daughter on Friday in a deal mediated by Qatar and Egypt.

The hostages were turned over to the International Committee of the Red Cross and were on their way home, the ICRC said in a statement. The women had been seized along with their husbands, who weren’t released, according to the Associated Press. Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the US and European Union.

Hamas Credits Qatar and Egypt in Release of Two More Hostages (9:40 p.m.)

Hamas said it agreed to the release of two more hostages after mediation with Qatar and Egypt.

The release came days after two other hostages from Illinois, mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Raanan, were freed.

Earlier: American Mother and Daughter Freed from Hamas Captivity

US Says It’s Sending More Forces to the Middle East (9:30 p.m.)

John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said the US will be deploying more military forces to the Middle East. “The president has added additional military forces to the region and more forces will be coming in days and weeks ahead, to try to deter any actor from widening or deepening this conflict,” Kirby told reporters

The US has already deployed two carrier strike groups to the region, and over the weekend shot down missiles and drones from Yemen suspected to be headed toward Israel.

Israelis Confident About Defeating Hamas, Poll Finds (7:45 pm)

Israel’s public is confident that the country will win the war with Hamas and has a high level of trust in the military, a survey by the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem found.

At the same time, Israelis are losing confidence in the government, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu specifically, according to the poll of 800 people, including 600 in the Jewish community and 200 in the Arab sector.

UK Says Israel Wasn’t Behind Gaza Hospital Blast (6:04 pm)

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said British intelligence and weapons experts concluded Israel wasn’t behind the deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza that the Gaza Health Ministry said killed hundreds of Palestinians last week.

“The British government judges that the explosion was likely caused by a missile or part of one that was launched from within Gaza towards Israel,” Sunak told Parliament in London on Monday – a finding that echoes those of the US and Israel. Sunak also announced an additional £20 million ($24 million) in aid for civilians in Gaza.

Google Suspends Live Traffic Conditions (5:43 p.m.)

Google’s Maps and Waze navigation applications are temporarily blocking access to live traffic conditions in Israel at the request of the Israeli military.

“As we have done previously in conflict situations and in response to the evolving situation in the region, we have temporarily disabled the ability to see live traffic conditions and busyness information out of consideration for the safety of local communities,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Google previously took similar action in Ukraine during its war with Russia, according to a spokesperson.

Egyptian Red Crescent Says More Aid Has Crossed to Gaza (5:38 p.m.)

Egypt’s Red Crescent said that 35 trucks carrying 600 tons of aid have crossed over to Gaza, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported. The organization’s executive director said the priority for the kind of aid being sent over is determined in coordination with the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Israel Fails to Stop Shekel’s Rout (4:48 p.m.)

Israel’s currency and bonds extended their declines even after the Bank of Israel kept its policy interest rate unchanged as investors worried over the war’s hit on the economy. The Bank of Israel’s new forecasts assume the conflict is contained to the country’s south.

The shekel declined as much as 0.15% to 4.0635 per dollar, extending its run of losses to an 11th day, the longest since 1984. Ten-year dollar bonds tumbled for an eighth successive day, while credit default swaps surged to the highest level in 11 years. The benchmark TA-35 Index of stocks was poised for the lowest since April 2021.

Read more: Israel Rate Hold Fails to Stop Shekel’s Longest Rout Since 1984

Gaza Reports 436 Deaths in Past 24 Hours (2:40 p.m.)

Authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said Israeli airstrikes killed 436 Palestinians in the past 24 hours, increasing the death toll to 5,087 and number of injured to 15,000 since Oct. 7.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said thousands of people have been killed in strikes on Gaza since Oct. 7, many of them children. “Hospitals have lost their treatment capacity, and medical teams are treating the wounded with very limited capabilities,” spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qidra said.

Egypt, Iran Stress Need for Gaza Aid (2:16 p.m.)

Egypt and Iran’s foreign ministers stressed the need for regional and international coordination to allow aid into Gaza, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, in another sign of efforts to improve ties between the two countries.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned of the danger that the Israel-Hamas war could widen into a broader conflict with unpredictable consequences.

US Bolsters Military Presence (1:42 p.m).

The US said it will further bulk up its military presence in the Middle East in response to “recent escalations” by Iran and its allied groups.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the military to send more air-defense equipment to the region. The Pentagon had already deployed two aircraft carriers — the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

EU Leaders Plan to Endorse Humanitarian Pause (1:30 p.m.)

European Union leaders are aiming to endorse a United Nations call for a “humanitarian pause” in the Israel-Hamas war to allow for the distribution of Gaza aid.

The 27 EU leaders are also set to pledge to work closely with regional partners to bolster humanitarian relief efforts, according to draft conclusions for a leaders’ summit in Brussels later this week. The document, which also calls for the immediate unconditional release of hostages and stresses the need to avoid regional escalation, could still change before governments sign off on it.

Read More: EU Leaders Plan to Back Call for Humanitarian Pause in Gaza

Hamas, Islamic Jihad Tell Iran They’ll Continue Fight (1:08 p.m.)

“The position of the resistance in the field and in spirit is extremely good and we’ll continue to strongly oppose” Israel, Ziad Al-Nakhala, secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, told Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in a call, according to a ministry statement.

Amirabdollahian also spoke separately by phone with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who thanked Iran for its “support of the Palestinian people.”

Read More: What’s Islamic Jihad, Accused in Gaza Hospital Strike: QuickTake

China’s Envoy Continues Push for Cease-Fire (12:48 p.m.)

China’s special envoy for the Middle East, Zhai Jun, will be in the United Arab Emirates Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said during a press conference on Monday in Beijing.

Zhai told journalists in Egypt on Sunday that he plans to visit the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other regional countries “to further strengthen coordination with relevant parties on promoting a cease-fire, halting violence and de-escalating the situation,” according to Chinese state television. Zhai has also visited Qatar.

Israel Says 222 Hostages Held in Gaza (10:40 a.m.)

Israel’s army says it’s notified the families of 222 people being held hostage in Gaza. It also said the bodies of 1,000 Palestinian militants who carried out the Oct. 7 attacks have been located in southern Israel.

Israel has approved the transfer of 14 trucks of humanitarian aid to southern Gaza after inspections to ensure they didn’t carry materials or weapons that could be used by Hamas, military spokesman Daniel Hagar said at a briefing. Israel will intervene if it sees any attempts by the militants to commandeer the aid, he added.


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