Praise God! Hamas has released 98 hostages back to Israel as part of a prisoner exchange between the warring parties.
The terrorist organization relinquished two more people today after the groups’ tentative ceasefire was extended through Thursday. Hamas is reportedly expected to release at least eight more prisoners today in exchange for the freedom of 30 Palestinians detained in Israel.
The nation had released 180 Palestinians detainees as of yesterday — the sixth day of the weeklong truce.
Little is known about the hostages’ experience with the notoriously brutal group; some reported being fed and housed appropriately, while others were hospitalized for medical conditions reportedly related to neglect. Many have been held since Hamas invaded Israel and kidnapped hundreds of civilians on October 7th — more than fifty days ago.
Mia Schem, one of the women released today, was being treated for a long cut on her arm in a video Hamas released shortly after its initial attack. Schem asked to be returned to her family in the clip, CNN reports.
An estimated 150 people remain captive. More prisoners are unlikely to be released if the ceasefire expires tonight. Negotiations to extend the truce further are underway in Qatar, but no extension has been announced past Thursday.
The safe return of almost 100 people to their families after being imprisoned for so long demonstrates the power and providence of our God. We are grateful that He hears our prayers (1 John 5:15) and intervenes on Israel’s behalf (Zechariah 2:7-8).
Now, we must ask for God’s continued presence in the region. Please pray specifically for:
- The safe return of the prisoners under Hamas’ control.
- Hamas to let Red Cross officials treat the remaining hostages, which it has so far refused to do. Red Cross visitation is supposed to be included in the ceasefire’s terms.
- The rescue and safety of 40 “missing” prisoners who are reportedly being held by the Palestinian Liberation Army — not Hamas. Some media outlets claimed Hamas had to prove the missing 40 were alive as part of the ceasefire, but it’s unclear whether it did.
- The lives of Yarden and Shiri Bibas and their young sons. Four-year-old Ariel and 10-month-old Kfir were kidnapped with their parents on October 7th. Hamas claims the family is dead.
We have hope in Jesus’ strength — and Israel does, too.
“On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a might one who will save; he will rejoirce over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 16-17 ESV).