It's the last day of a scheduled 4-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is the last day of the four-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, after three rounds of hostage-prisoner exchanges that began on Friday.
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Another exchange is expected later today, but both sides say they're open to more releases and a longer cease-fire.
MARTIN: NPR's Daniel Estrin is with us now from Tel Aviv with more. Good morning from Washington, D.C., Daniel.
DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Good morning from Tel Aviv, Michel.
MARTIN: So this process started on Friday. Would you bring us up to date with where we are now, especially for people who haven't followed this closely? Tell us about those released so far.
ESTRIN: In total, 58 hostages have been released in the last three nights. Red Cross convoys drove them out of Gaza. They are mostly women and young children, mostly Israelis. They're also have been some guest workers from Thailand released and dual nationals, like a 4-year-old American Israeli whose parents were killed in the Hamas attacks on October 7. The U.S. is estimating that nine other American Israelis are still being held in Gaza. And on the flip side, Israel has released 117 Palestinian women and teens. They were in Israeli jails on a range of offenses. They were released to their families in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
MARTIN: Can you tell us anything about the condition of the hostages while they were in captivity? And I'd also like to hear about the response to the release of Palestinian prisoners.
ESTRIN: Yeah. We have been hearing from family members who have spoken to their relatives about what they endured. Many lost weight. They ate mostly bread and rice, they said, slept on a row of chairs. According to an aunt of one hostage, this hostage escaped from his captives when the building he was held in was hit in an Israeli strike. He hid for a few days. So many different kinds of stories we're hearing, and even that many of the hostages were in the dark about what had happened to their family on October 7. One thought her family had been killed and when she was released, discovered that her relatives are alive.
One of the hostages released is now in serious condition in the hospital, but many do seem to be in good condition. We saw videos of some young kids released running to greet their parents. But you also asked about the Palestinian prisoners released. And I would say that the Israeli government has forbidden Palestinians to greet released relatives with celebrations. There have been some police crackdowns. There have been some greeted with cheers and praise for Hamas in the West Bank and Palestinians greeting them, you know, see them as part of the larger resistance against Israel.
MARTIN: And what about conditions in Gaza during these days of this temporary cease-fire? More aid there was part of the deal. Is it getting in, and is it making a difference?
ESTRIN: It is getting in. It's making a difference for bakeries, hospitals, sewage plants. They're able to, you know, operate again with fuel and gas. But for individuals in Gaza, that's not really trickling down. They are still short, really, on the basics, even flour to make bread.
MARTIN: And, Daniel, before we let you go, what about the possibility of this cease-fire being extended? We're hearing that there are some talks about that.
ESTRIN: It does seem highly likely the cease-fire will be extended for at least another couple days. There are Israeli reports that Hamas has gathered a few dozen more hostages. But, you know, this really is a just a drop in the bucket. There are still believed to be around 170 hostages in Gaza, still many Palestinians in Israeli jail that Hamas wants to negotiate for their release. And, of course, Israel says the cease-fire is temporary and that it will renew the military assault on Hamas in Gaza, which has been catastrophic for civilians in Gaza.
MARTIN: That is NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv. Daniel, thank you so much.
ESTRIN: You're very welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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