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Israel expects more hostages to be freed, prepares to release Palestinian prisoners

Hamas was expected to release a second group of Israelis on Saturday as a planned four-day truce to allow an exchange of 50 hostages for Palestinian prisoners continued to hold in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Egyptian security sources said they had received the names of 14 Israeli women and children from Hamas and were waiting for more details on when the hostages would be handed over to Egyptian authorities.

Israeli security officials were reviewing the list, though the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not confirm the number or timing of the expected release.

Earlier, Israeli prison authorities said they were preparing to release 42 Palestinian detainees, in line with the terms of the Qatari brokered accord agreed last week.

Under the truce – the first break in the seven-week war – 50 women and children held by Hamas are to be released in stages over four days in return for 150 Palestinian women and children who are among thousands of detainees in Israeli jails.

Hamas fighters freed 24 hostages on Friday – 13 Israelis, 10 Thai farm workers and a Filipino – and 24 Palestinian women and 15 teenagers were later released from Israeli detention.

The former hostages underwent medical checks before returning for emotional re-unions with relatives in Israel, where happiness mingled with concern for those still held by militants in Gaza.

“I am happy I received my family back, it’s allowed to feel joy and it’s allowed to shed a tear. That’s a human thing,” said Yoni Katz Asher, whose wife Doron and children Raz and Aviv were freed on Friday. “But I am not celebrating; I will not celebrate until the last of the hostages returns home.”

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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