Although the crisis over the release of the second group of hostages was averted following pressure from Qatar, Egypt and the United States, and after long hours of delay, the hostages were finally delivered to Israel - but one dispute was left unsolved.
Israel received 13 hostages, instead of 14, as 12-year-old Hila Rotem was released without her mother Raya Rotem, who remains in Hamas captivity, despite obligation from the terror group not to separate mothers from their children as part of the cease-fire agreement. It was also reported that, in the past two days, the Mossad has exerted pressure for the release of Hila's mother, but without success.
Prior to the release of the second group of hostages, and following the delay, Israel understood that Hamas was not going to make it easy. Hamas blamed Israel for violating the agreement, both regarding the identity of the released prisoners and the number of aid trucks entering the northern Gaza Strip. On the other hand, Israel claimed that Hamas violated its commitment to avoid family separations in the release.
Israeli officials stated that the Americans played a decisive role in implementing the truce. US President Joe Biden held two phone calls during his holiday break, one with the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and the other with the prime minister of Qatar, urging them to exert pressure on Hamas. Simultaneously, American representatives in the region engaged in discussions with both sides.
The 12 other Israeli hostages freed from captivity in Gaza on Saturday are: Shoshan Haran, 67, her daughter Adi Shoham, 38, and Adi’s children Yahel, 3, and Naveh, 8; Shiri Weiss, 53, and her daughter, Noga Weiss, 18; Maya Regev, 21; Emily Hand, 9 who was initially presumed to be have been killed by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7; Noam Or, 17, and Alma Or, 13; and Noam Avigdori, 12, and her mother Sharon Avigdori, 52.