Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters handed over another twelve hostages Tuesday to the Red Cross in Gaza, part of an exchange under the terms of an extended truce in the Israel-Hamas war. Meanwhile, a French warship sent to Egypt to treat wounded from the Gaza Strip has received its first patients.
The Israeli hostages, all women, were handed over by masked and armed fighters, some from Hamas and others from Islamic Jihad, to Red Cross officials in Rafah near the border with Egypt, according to the French press agency AFP.
Shortly afterwards, the Israeli military said in a statement that "based on information that was received from the Red Cross, 12 hostages - including 10 Israelis and two foreign nationals - are on their way toward Israeli territory".
The release of the two foreign hostages came in addition to the release of the ten Israelis, including nine women and one child, under the terms of the deal.
Meanwhile, international figures hailed the pause in hostilities and releases of captives as a cause for hope in the conflict sparked by deadly Hamas attacks that prompted an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Israel and Hamas accused each other of violating the extended pause in incidents on Tuesday, though Qatari officials mediating in the conflict said this did not knock the truce off track.
As a two-day extension to the truce began Tuesday, US and Israeli intelligence chiefs were in Doha, capital of Qatar, to discuss the "next phase" of the deal, a source briefed on their visit said.
Israel and Hamas are under international pressure not to return to all-out fighting when the latest truce ends on Thursday, but instead to build on the prisoner swaps to find a solution to the conflict.
A French warship sent to Egypt to treat wounded from the Gaza Strip has received its first patients.
The Dixmude arrived on Monday in the Egyptian town of El-Arish near the border with Gaza and on Tuesday received the patients, said Sebastien Lecornu, France's army minister.
The vessel is equipped with two operating blocs, 40 beds and 80 medical personnel, he said.