November 25, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Jessie Yeung, Brad Lendon, Hafsa Khalil, Sophie Tanno, Tori B. Powell, Isabelle D'Antonio and Chris Lau, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, November 26, 2023
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2:03 a.m. ET, November 25, 2023

Released Palestinian prisoners celebrated as they return to West Bank

From CNN's Celine Alkhaldi, Nada Bashir and Shirin Zia Faqiri

Released Palestinian prisoners arrive to Beitunia, west of Ramallah, with International Red Cross vehicles under the agreement on the four-day humanitarian pause in Ramallah, West Bank on November 24.
Released Palestinian prisoners arrive to Beitunia, west of Ramallah, with International Red Cross vehicles under the agreement on the four-day humanitarian pause in Ramallah, West Bank on November 24. Issam Rimawi/Anadolu/Getty Images

Palestinians released from Israeli prisons were met with celebrations on Friday evening as they returned to their hometowns and villages in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In videos obtained by CNN, the released prisoners can be seen paraded through the streets, carried on people’s shoulders as crowds wave the Palestinian flag, as well as that of Hamas.

Thirty-nine people were released Friday under the deal between Israel and Hamas, which also saw the release of 24 hostages from Gaza, and the start of a four-day truce in the enclave. 

Twenty-two women were among those released, as well as two girls. Fifteen teenage boys up to the age of 18 were also released — the youngest age 14. 

What they were imprisoned for: There are few more sensitive issues for Palestinians in the occupied territories than the issue of prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Some are serving sentences for attacks on Israelis, while many others are being held in administrative detention, a widely criticized practice that sees people held without knowing the charges against them, and without any legal process.

Aseel El-Titi, a 23-year-old prisoner released on Friday, told CNN she had only found out that morning she was being released. But, she said, her joy was tempered by the knowledge of what was happening in Gaza.

"Our joy is incomplete. There are martyrs because of the situation in Gaza. The number of martyrs in Gaza has become greater than the number of prisoners [in Israeli jails],” El-Titi said. 

“Despite this, the Palestinian people are steadfast, and Hamas is trying to release all the prisoners and end the occupation," she said. 

Wael Ahmad, a bystander at the Beitunia crossing in the occupied West Bank, where the prisoners were driven after their release, told CNN he also found it hard to celebrate when so many had been killed in Gaza.

"This celebration is wrong. I am torn to pieces,” Ahmad said.

More releases to come: The agreement struck between Israel and Hamas will see three more days of prisoner releases.

For Hamas, securing the freedom of an expected 150 incarcerated Palestinians represents an opportunity to burnish its credentials in the West Bank as the flagbearer of Palestinian resistance.

12:21 a.m. ET, November 25, 2023

Israel says it received a list of hostages to be released on Saturday

From Tamar Michaelis in Tel Aviv

The Mossad and the Israel Defense Forces have received the second list of Israeli hostages due to be released on Saturday as part of the framework agreed with Hamas, the office of Israel's prime minister wrote in a statement on Friday.

Security officials are reviewing the list of names, the statement read. An Israeli source told CNN there are children on the list of hostages expected to be released on Saturday.

Israel's Hostage Coordinator Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch has given the information to the families of the hostages, the statement added.  

The list will not be released to the public until the hostages are safely in Israeli hands.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.

11:58 p.m. ET, November 24, 2023

11 released foreign nationals transferred to Israeli medical center, Foreign Ministry says

From Tamar Michaelis in Tel Aviv

Eleven foreign nationals — 10 men and one woman — freed by Hamas in Gaza are spending the night at Shamir-Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The medical center is located in the Israeli town of Beer Yaakov, southeast of Tel Aviv,

The 10 Thai citizens and one Philippine citizen will remain at the hospital until medical examinations are complete, the ministry said in a statement.

“An initial examination suggests [the freed hostages] seem well,” Dr. Osnat Levtzion Korach, the medical center’s director general said in a video statement. “They are very glad to be somewhere safe and are thankful for the treatment and attention," he added.

“We’re very glad and proud to take a part in this effort,” the doctor said.

11:59 p.m. ET, November 24, 2023

Implementing hostage agreement in days ahead will be complicated, Israel military spokesperson says

From Tamar Michaelis and CNN's Lauren Kent

The Israeli military is warning that the implementation of the hostage release agreement will be complicated and "nothing is over until it’s over."  

"The days ahead of us will be complicated, nothing is over until it’s over. We should be prepared," Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Friday.

He said the freeing of 24 hostages from Gaza, including 13 Israeli citizens, is "a great relief," but "our hearts are with the hostages that are still being held in Gaza."

The agreement, accompanied by a four-day truce between Hamas and Israel that began on Friday morning, represents the first major diplomatic breakthrough in the conflict.

"In the Gaza Strip in the morning hours, IDF troops deployed along the lines of the operational pause in Gaza. The commanders were briefed and prepared the forces as to how to act during the time of the pause," Hagari added. "During the pause days, the IDF will complete the preparations for the next phases of the war."

Asked about the possibility that senior Hamas officials might attempt to flee Gaza during the truce, Hagari said, "We’re monitoring everything necessary, and are monitoring senior Hamas officials, in Gaza and anywhere in the world."

2:01 a.m. ET, November 25, 2023

Hostages held in Gaza and Palestinians jailed in Israel were released Friday. Here's what you should know

From CNN staff

International Red Cross vehicles transport freed hostages through the Rafah border crossing in Gaza on November 24.
International Red Cross vehicles transport freed hostages through the Rafah border crossing in Gaza on November 24. Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu/Getty Images

Twenty-four people held hostage for nearly seven weeks in the Gaza Strip were released Friday as part of a truce brokered between Israel and Hamas, according to officials.

The group includes 10 Thai citizens, 13 Israelis and one Philippine citizen, according to Qatar Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari. They are now in Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said Friday. 

In addition, 39 Palestinian women and teenagers were freed from Israeli jails and were on their way to the West Bank.

A total of 50 hostages could be freed over the four-day pause in fighting, while Palestinian prisoners are also due to be released in waves. 

The pause and releases followed weeks of tense negotiations – and took several agonizing days to come into effect. The agreement represents the first major diplomatic breakthrough in the conflict.

Here's what else you know about Friday's developments:

  • Kidnapped from kibbutz: The civilians released included 13 Israeli women and children who had been captured by Hamas during its brutal cross-border raids on October 7 and held for 48 days amid worsening humanitarian conditions. All but one were abducted from the Nir Oz kibbutz, according to spokespeople for the kibbutz and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum. They included 5-year-old Emilia Aloni and Adina Moshe, who was seen being driven away on a motorbike after being abducted.
  • Reaction to releases: Hailing the release, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he remains committed to securing the release of all those still held in Gaza. Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs released detailed instructions outlining how to care for released children. The release sparked a range of emotions in Tel Aviv on Friday and raised hopes for the families of those still held in the enclave.
  • Palestinian prisoner release: Qatar’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that Palestinian prisoners are on their way to the West Bank. The 39 were released from three prisons — Damon, Megiddo and Ofer — according to the prison service. A CNN team outside Ofer prison witnessed clashes between the Israeli military and some Palestinians ahead of the release. Around 8,300 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in Israeli jails, said Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs.
  • Developments on the ground: The Israeli military told people in southern Gaza not to move north, with its forces restricting travel to only one road. Also, a CNN team in the southern Israel city of Sderot said it heard "loud booms" that sounded like Israeli artillery fire landing in Gaza, up to 15 minutes after the expected start time of the truce between Israel and Hamas.
  • Humanitarian aid: The United Nations said 137 trucks with humanitarian goods were offloaded in Gaza on the first day of the pause, marking the largest aid convoy since October 7. Some 130,000 liters of diesel fuel and four trucks of gas will enter daily starting Friday, according to an Egyptian official.
  • Returning Palestinians: Displaced Palestinians attempting to return to homes in northern Gaza were allegedly blocked by Israeli forces, a journalist told CNN. But eventually, at least 67 Palestinians who had been stuck in Egypt since fighting began on October 7 crossed back Friday, hours after the truce went into effect.

2:16 a.m. ET, November 25, 2023

UN special coordinator for Middle East peace welcomes Israel-Hamas truce

From CNN's Richard Roth and Mohammed Tawfeeq

Released Palestinian prisoner Marah Bkeer embraces her family near her home in Jerusalem after being released in the hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel on November 24.
Released Palestinian prisoner Marah Bkeer embraces her family near her home in Jerusalem after being released in the hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel on November 24. Latifeh Abdellatif/Reuters

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland welcomed the implementation of the hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas.

"I welcome today's start to the implementation of the agreement reached on Wednesday, November 22, which saw the release of 13 Israeli hostages abducted by Hamas and others on October 7 and the release of 39 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons," Wennesland said in a statement issued at the UN in New York Friday.

"I also welcome the release of a number of foreign workers held in Gaza. I look forward to additional releases expected over the coming days," Wennesland added.

Israel and Hamas reached a deal for a four-day pause in fighting and the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza that began on Friday. The Israel Prison Service announced on Friday night that 39 Palestinian prisoners were released as part of the hostage agreement

Wennesland said the pause in fighting "went into effect with relative calm, allowing truckloads of aid to go into Gaza."

"These developments are a significant humanitarian breakthrough that we need to build on," according to Wennesland.

Earlier Friday, the UN said 137 trucks of humanitarian aid were driven into the Gaza Strip, marking the largest aid convoy that has moved into the enclave since October 7. 

Wennesland also called for the release of all hostages held by Hamas and others in Gaza.