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The latest on the Israel-Hamas swap of captives


After a delay of several hours, Hamas has now released a second group of Israeli women and children held hostage for seven weeks. And in turn, Israel is set to release a second group of Palestinian prisoners. The last-minute snag reflected the fragile nature of the temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. For more, we're joined by NPR's Greg Myre in Tel Aviv. Hey, Greg.


DETROW: So an agreement had been in place yesterday. The first exchange of hostages and prisoners seemed to go pretty smoothly. Yet today's was delayed until late in the night. What exactly happened?

MYRE: Right. You know, as you said, we got through the exchange on Friday. And so it was a good sign and thought things could go well today. The release of the Israeli hostages was supposed to happen around 4 p.m. local time, but it was delayed. And then it emerged that Hamas was complaining that not enough aid was reaching northern Gaza, which it says was part of this agreement. Hamas raised a few other grievances as well, saying some of the prisoners that wanted to be released were not on Israel's list of those being freed, but Qatar, who - which has been the main mediator here, stepped in and helped resolve these issues. Egypt and the U.S. also seemed to be involved.

DETROW: Are the Israeli hostages out of Gaza now?

MYRE: Yes. The International Committee of the Red Cross drove the Israelis - and we're talking about eight children and five women - out of southern Gaza into Egypt. They've recently reached Israel, and they'll get a quick medical exam in southern Israel. And they'll be taken to hospitals in the Tel Aviv area for more extensive exams. Also, several foreign nationals were supposed to be released. They're believed to be from Thailand, though we don't have official word yet. A small number of Americans are still being held. They have dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship. They have not been released.

DETROW: OK. What about the status of the Palestinian prisoners?

MYRE: So Israel is set to release another 39 Palestinian women and teenagers who are being held prisoner in the West Bank. Palestinian families are they're waiting past midnight for their arrival. The list calls for 33 teenagers and six women to be freed. These releases would keep the cease-fire agreement on track for a second day, and this temporary truce is set to run through Monday. And overall, it calls for about 50 Israelis and 150 Palestinians to be released.

DETROW: OK. Let's go back to what you said one of the tension points was, though - Hamas saying that not enough aid was getting to northern Gaza. What's the update on the aid going in since it was such a sticking point today?

MYRE: Right, Scott. So the cease-fire agreement is allowing increased aid to flow into Gaza, so about 400 trucks have come in southern Gaza over the past two days. This is far more than at any time during the past seven weeks of fighting. It includes food, water, medicine and fuel. But Hamas says not enough is going to northern Gaza. This is where the Israeli troops have taken over much of the territory. Based on the statements from Hamas and Israel, at least 50 of these 400 trucks have gone to the northern part of the territory. But Hamas says this is not enough. There should be more. We don't know the exact details, but as you as you noted, this was a big sticking point today. We'll be watching to see if that gets cleared up in the days ahead.

DETROW: So a lot of complications on Day 2 of this cease-fire. But in the end, the agreement seems to be holding. What does this bode for the coming days?

MYRE: Yeah, I think it's going to be touch and go throughout. Obviously, a lot of things can go wrong. But we saw today other countries - Qatar, Egypt, the U.S. - are standing by to help sort out any glitches. If the cease-fire holds through Monday, it can be extended a day at a time for six more days. But Israel says the cease-fire will not extend for more than 10 days, and it will resume military operations intended to crush Hamas. Israel's military chief made that very clear in remarks tonight.

DETROW: That's NPR's Greg Myre in Tel Aviv. Thanks so much, Greg.

MYRE: Sure thing, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Greg Myre is a national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community, a position that follows his many years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts around the globe.