The military wing of Palestinian movement Hamas, al-Qassam Brigades, confirmed the transfer of Israeli hostages to the staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the al-Aqsa TV channel reported on Friday, citing sources.
Earlier in the day, the Kan radio broadcaster reported, citing sources, that the first group of Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip has been handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross and will first travel to Egypt and then enter Israel through the Nitzana checkpoint. Later, The Times of Israel reported, citing an Israeli official, that the first group of 13 Israeli hostages is making their way to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to leave the Gaza Strip.
The al-Qassam Brigades have completed the transfer of Israeli hostages to Red Cross employees, the broadcaster reported.
Happy but wary, displaced Palestinians try to head home to north Gaza
Many joyful but wary Palestinians emerged from makeshift shelters at the start of the four-day Gaza ceasefire earlier on Friday to begin the long journey back to their homes.
In the southern town of Khan Younis, which has been housing thousands of displaced families, including those from heavily bombarded northern Gaza, the streets were packed with people on the move.
Hundreds were heading towards the north, despite Israel dropping leaflets warning them not to go back to an area it described as still being a dangerous war zone.
Men, women, and children carried their belongings in plastic bags, shopping bags, and rucksacks. One family sat on the back of a cart, piled high with bags, and was pulled by a donkey.
Some people looked up to the sky as if to check if they were not in danger of attack from Israeli warplanes.
"I am now very happy; I feel at ease," said Ahmad Wael, trudging along with a large mattress on his head.
"I am going back to my home; our hearts are rested, especially that there is a four-day official ceasefire, better than returning to live in tents. I am very tired from sitting there, without any food or water. There (at home) we can live, we drink tea, make bread using fire, and the oven."
The United Nations says around two-thirds of Gaza's 2.3 million residents are homeless, including most of the population of Gaza City and the rest of the northern half of the enclave, reduced to a wasteland by Israel's assault.
Reuters and Sputnik