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Israel-Hamas war: 17 more hostages released, including American girl who turned 4 while held captive

More hostages were released Nov. 26 in the third day of a fragile truce between Israel and Hamas.
/ Source: NBC News

An American girl who spent her fourth birthday held captive by Hamas was freed by the militant group Sunday, Nov. 26 as a part of the four-day cease-fire and hostage exchange agreement between Israel and the militant group.

Abigail Mor Edan, who turned 4 on Friday, Nov. 24, was among 17 hostages freed on the third day of the fragile truce, which has seen Israel release Palestinian prisoners and allow aid into the Gaza Strip, according to a statement from Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum.

In its statement, the organization called Abigail an unwilling symbol of war and that “all of Israel and the world welcome her safe return.”

In an exclusive interview in Washington with NBC News’ Lester Holt earlier this month, Abigail’s great-aunt Liz Hirsh Naftali revealed that the little girl’s parents were killed in their home at the Kfar Aza kibbutz.

Image: Abigail Mor Idan, 3.
Abigail Mor Edan, 4.Family Handout

Seventeen hostages were released by Hamas Sunday, according to a list from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. Of the 17, three were foreign nationals, the statement added.

Hamas said in a statement Sunday that it released a hostage with Russian citizenship “in appreciation of the Russian position in support of the Palestinian cause” and efforts from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Israel released 39 more Palestinians, all of whom are minors, from Israeli prisons, the spokesman for Qatar’s foreign ministry said Sunday on X. The Palestinians were freed in exchange for 17 hostages who were abducted by Hamas.

The International Committee of the Red Cross also said on X it helped to facilitate the release of 19 Palestinian detainees from Israeli detention centers.

Hamas wants to extend the limited peace deal “by seriously seeking to increase the number of released detainees as stated in the humanitarian truce agreement,” the group said in a statement issued on Telegram today.

The current parameters of the temporary cease-fire agreed upon by both Hamas and Israel is limiting the pause to four days as 50 Israeli women and children are released. Other foreign nationals who were taken hostage were also released in direct deals with other countries during the pause.

But the deal also allows for a potential extension — an extra day for every 10 hostages released, U.S. officials have previously said.

Saturday, 13 Israelis and four Thai citizens were released after an hourslong delay, bringing the total to 26 Israelis, of the 50 expected to be freed from Gaza. Fifteen Thai and Filipino citizens have also been released as part of a separate deal with Hamas.

Thirty-nine Palestinian prisoners held by Israel were released from three prisons Saturday, Nov. 25 as part of the hostage-prisoner swap that is expected to total 150 by the end of the four-day truce.

Among the Palestinian prisoners released Saturday was Israa’ Al-Ja’abes, whose story prompted a documentary that was shortlisted for an Academy Award. She was arrested for allegedly “having nationalistic motives for killing Israelis.”

Al-Ja’abes lost eight fingers and was badly burned when her car exploded near East Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, according to a profile by Addameer, the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, which said she is married and had a young son.

Al-Ja’abes has maintained her innocence, saying the explosion was an accident. Israel charged her with terrorism, putting her behind bars for 11 years. Addameer said she was kept in the male section of the prison and was monitored by security cameras.

Upon her release, Al-Ja’abes was greeted by family. Israel has disallowed celebrations around the release of Palestinian prisoners in East Jerusalem. “My instructions are clear: There are to be no expressions of joy,” National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said earlier this week.

Relatives of prominent Palestinian prisoner Israa Jaabis welcome her at her home in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem early on November 26.OREN ZIV / AFP - Getty Images

A flow of aid trucks continue to enter Gaza under protection of the cease-fire, including much-needed fuel. The humanitarian aid brings relief for civilians who have been suffering for weeks as supplies of food, water and medicine ran low.

People in northern Gaza and Gaza City are “experiencing famine,” Adnan Abu Hasna, media adviser for the U.N. agency for Palestinian relief, told Al Jazeera Nov. 26. “Intestinal and skin diseases are more widespread than before.”

Palestinians collect allotments of cooking fuel and bags of food as a steady flow of aid enters Gaza, including heavily besieged northern Gaza. Aid agencies say that while these are the largest convoys of aid to enter so far, it is still not enough to meet the basic needs of Gazans. Fatima Shbair / AP

The Ministry of Health in Gaza today put out a call asking for help at Kamal Adwan Hospital in north of the besieged enclave.

In a statement, the ministry urged any available medical and nursing personnel to go to hospital to assist the staff already there.

It said the hospital is under “enormous work pressure, especially in the specialties of obstetrics, children, nursery, surgery and orthopedics.”

The Israeli military has warned people in the south of the strip not to return to the north, where it is conducting military operations.

The agency needed 120 tons of fuel per day to start basic facilities, Abu Hasna said, adding that 200 humanitarian aid trucks needed to enter every day for two consecutive months.

He added that this need exceeded the Rafah border crossing’s capacity of 130 trucks and an additional crossing would need to be opened to deliver enough fuel and relief goods.

More than 1.7 million people have been displaced in Gaza, where health officials say the death toll has surpassed 14,500 after weeks of Israeli attacks. The Israel Defense Forces estimate 1,200 people were killed in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, with more than 200 people held hostage in Gaza.

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