Israel to Release 42 Palestinian Prisoners in Exchange for Hostages

Hostages released as part of a deal between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas arrive by helicopter at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel, November 24, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel is set to release 42 Palestinian prisoners on Saturday as part of a deal with the Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip. The prisoners include 18 women and 24 teenage boys, who were held on charges ranging from stone-throwing to attacks on police officers, according to Al Jazeera and Haaretz.

The release is conditional on the prior release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, as agreed by the two sides in a mediated negotiation. The hostages are believed to be two Israeli civilians and the remains of two Israeli soldiers, who were captured by Hamas during the 2014 Gaza war.

The Palestinian prisoners will undergo medical checks by the International Red Cross at Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank, before being transferred to their original places of residence, such as the West Bank or East Jerusalem, the newspapers reported, citing Israeli prison officials.

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This is the second group of Palestinian prisoners to be released by Israel as part of the deal with Hamas. The first group, which consisted of 26 prisoners, was released on October 19, 2023. The total number of Palestinian prisoners to be freed by Israel under the agreement is 104, while Hamas is expected to release four Israeli hostages in return. The prisoner swap is seen as a rare sign of cooperation between the two sides, amid ongoing tensions and violence in the region.