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After worldwide clamor for a ceasefire in the brutal Israel-Gaza conflict that has ravaged the Middle East since October 7, the first steps have been taken towards a peaceful solution as Hamas agreed to release 13 Israeli hostages.
Friday saw the release of 13 individuals who were captured as part of the October 7 offensive perpetrated by Hamas on recognized Israeli soil, which brought virtually universal condemnation.
What has followed has perhaps been the bloodiest chapter in the history of the conflict, with civilian casualties in Gaza having risen by the hour.
Whilst we have an unfortunate history of seeing these ceasefires end after a relatively short period, any pause in the bloodshed is welcome, even if it took longer in coming than anyone anticipated.
Hamas took around 240 civilian hostages
The brutal nature of the October 7 attacks has somewhat been blurred by the subsequent armed offensive launched by the IDF, in which hospitals have been central.
However, it's important to remember that Hamas took around 240 civilian hostages on October 7, and they knew every single one of those individuals was a civilian when they were taken.
Friday afternoon saw the first real move towards peace as 13 Israeli women and children were released into the control of the Red Cross at Egypt's border crossing.
Furthermore, there were also international diplomatic efforts to free non-Israeli hostages who were caught in the crossfire of the battle simply by being present in Israel at the time of the attacks.
12 Thai nationals were also freed by Hamas, with the spokesperson for the Qatar Ministry, Majed al-Ansari, confirming as much.
"The released hostages underwent an initial medical assessment inside Israeli territory. They will continue to be accompanied by IDF soldiers as they make their way to Israeli hospitals, where they will be reunited with their families," explained an Israeli military spokesperson.