What you need to know
- Eight Israeli hostages have been released, with more Palestinian prisoners set to be released in exchange
- Seventeen freed Thai hostages arrive in Bangkok
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Israel must put in place protections for civilians before it restarts its operations in Gaza
- Truce extended to seventh day
Qatar says 8 hostages released Thursday
Eight Israeli hostages were released on the seventh day of the humanitarian pause in Gaza, Qatar's Foreign ministry said Thursday.
Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari however said that 30 Palestinians would be released from Israeli prisons, in exchange for a total of 10 hostages in Gaza, a tally which included "two Russian citizens who were released yesterday."
The agreed ratio for the exchanges is three Palestinian prisoners per Hamas hostage.
Dual nationals from Uruguay, Mexico and Russia were among eight Israeli hostages released by Hamas on Thursday, mediator Qatar said, adding that they were all handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
"The eight Israeli citizens being released today as part of the agreement include two minors and six women," Qatar's Al Ansari also said.
IDF says 6 hostages en route to Israel
Six Israeli hostages held by the Palestinian militant Islamist group Hamas had been transferred to the Red Cross and were en route to Israel, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Thursday.
"According to the information provided by the Red Cross, six Israeli abductees were transferred to them and are on their way to Israel," the IDF said on social media.
Earlier the same day, the IDF said two Israeli women hostages were handed over to the Red Cross and were on their way to Israel.
Hamas is classified by multiple countries as a terrorist organization.
Blinken says Israel must protect civilians before resuming Gaza operations
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv on Thursday that he made clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel must put in place protections for civilians before it starts its operations in southern Gaza.
"Israel has ... one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world. It is capable of neutralizing the threat posed by Hamas while minimizing harm to innocent men, women and children. And it has an obligation to do so," Blinken said.
Israel "must put in place humanitarian civilian protection plans that minimize further casualties of innocent Palestinians," he told reporters, "including by clearly and precisely designating areas and places in southern and central Gaza, where they can be safe and out of the line of fire."
The US top diplomat added that the Israeli government had agreed with the need to protect civilians.
Blinken also called for a further extension to the truce which has seen a pause in fighting in Gaza.
"Clearly, we want to see this process continue to move forward," he said following a visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank. "We want an eighth day and beyond."
ICC prosecutor visits Israel
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said its chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, is visiting Israel at the request of survivors and the families of victims of the October 7 Hamas attacks.
Khan is also expected to visit Ramallah in the occupied West Bank to meet with senior Palestinian officials, the ICC said.
"The visit, while not investigative in nature, represents an important opportunity to express sympathy for all victims and engage in dialogue," the court wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
The ICC opened an investigation in 2021, looking into Israel as well as Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups for possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories.
Hamas is designated a terrorist group by the EU, US and Israel, among others.
Khan has previously said this investigation now "extends to the escalation of hostilities and violence" that began with the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7.
The efforts are complicated by the fact that ICC teams have not been able to enter Gaza or carry out investigations in Israel, which is currently not an ICC member.
Israel's Herzog pushes for hostage release in Dubai
Israeli President Isaac Herzog has with met his Emirati counterpart on the sidelines of the UN climate talks, COP28, as part of a diplomatic effort to secure the release of more hostages held by Hamas.
According to a statement by his office, Herzog is said to have underlined "the necessity to act in any way possible to free the Israeli hostages held captive by the murderous terrorist organization Hamas," in his meeting with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
He appealed to his Emirati counterpart "to employ his full political weight to promote and speed up the return home of the hostages," the statement read.
Israel's war with Hamas has taken center stage at the climate talks in Dubai, with supporters of a durable cease-fire also expressing their positions.
"We are here to express our solidarity with the Palestinians and call for a permanent cease-fire," Lidy Nacpil, representing a coalition of 350 climate justice organizations, told a press conference.
Some activists at the press conference also chanted "Free Palestine" and other related slogans in solidarity.
'Negotiations are underway' for another truce extension
DW's correspondent in Israel, Tania Krämer, has reported that despite Thursday's shooting in Jerusalem the truce between Israel and Hamas is going ahead and more hostages will be released, with all eyes on another potential truce extension.
UN says it is investigating claims of sexual violence by Hamas
A UN commission of inquiry investigating war crimes on both sides of the Israel-Hamas conflict will also look into claims of sexual violence by Islamist Hamas militants in the October 7 attacks on Israel, Reuters has reported.
Hamas has denied the claims.
UN Human Rights Council member Navi Pillay told Reuters she would pass any evidence collected onto the International Criminal Court.
"I'm now sitting as chair of a commission with the power to investigate this. So there's no way we will not do so," said Pillay, chair of the three-member commission of inquiry into abuses committed in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there were "numerous accounts of sexual violence during the abhorrent acts of terror by Hamas on 7 October that must be vigorously investigated and prosecuted."
"Gender-based violence must be condemned. Anytime. Anywhere," Guterres wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Pillay said some people have come forward to provide their testimonies and that these would be handed over to prosecutors.
But Israel has not yet cooperated with the commission, accusing it of having an anti-Israel bias, something that could hinder the fact-finding investigation.
Macron praises release of French-Israeli hostage
French President Emmanuel Macron has celebrated the release of French-Israeli hostage Mia Schem. Macron said his country was working toward the liberation of all remaining hostages in Gaza.
The release of Schem was "a great joy that I share with her family and all French people," the president said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
The 21-year-old was abducted on October 7 from the Supernova music festival by the Islamist militant group Hamas and taken to Gaza.
Blinken urges Israel to comply with international law
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on Israel to comply with international law as it wages war against the militant Islamist group Hamas in Gaza. Blinken made the remarks after the two sides agreed to a last-minute extension of the truce.
The US State Department said Blinken assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he could count on US support, but said that such support requires Israel's "compliance with international humanitarian law," and he "urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm."
Blinken "stressed the imperative of accounting for humanitarian and civilian protection needs in southern Gaza before any military operations there," in order to prevent a further major increase in civilian casualties.
Additionally, Blinken also "urged immediate steps to hold settler extremists accountable for violence against Palestinians in the West Bank" and reiterated that the US places great importance on the resumption of a peace process that would eventually lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.
Blinken met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog earlier in the day, saying that the pause in fighting has been "producing results."
Israel summons Spanish ambassador over Sanchez comments
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on social media that he had summoned the Spanish ambassador for a reprimand after "the shameful comments by the Spanish Prime Minister [Pedro Sanchez] on the day that Hamas terrorists murdered Israelis in our capital, Jerusalem."
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also said he "decided to summon the Israeli ambassador in Spain for consultations in Jerusalem."
Sanchez said in an interview on Thursday that the world must tell Israel "it needs to base its actions on international humanitarian law, and with the images we are seeing and the growing number of people dying, especially boys and girls, I have serious doubts."
Sanchez also called for the recognition of a Palestinian state. "It is obvious that we must find a political solution to put an end to this crisis and this solution requires, in my opinion, the recognition of the Palestinian state," he told Spanish public broadcaster TVE.
Netanyahu's office was referring to a shooting earlier in Jerusalem that killed three people and was claimed by Hamas, the Islamist militant group recognized by the EU and the US, along with several other countries, as a terrorist organization.
Israel has declared Jerusalem as its "undivided" capital for decades. Palestinians have claimed the majority-Arab east Jerusalem as the capital of any future sovereign state.
The majority of UN countries continue to base their embassies in Tel Aviv, and agree that Jerusalem's status should be negotiated as part of a two-state solution.
Two Israeli hostages transferred to Red Cross
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has said two Israeli women hostages were handed over to the Red Cross and were on their way to Israel.
The IDF added in a social media post that more Israeli hostages were expected to be transferred to the Red Cross in the coming hours.
Reuters news agency reported, citing a Palestinian source, that Hamas transferred the two hostages to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City.
Hamas is classified by multiple countries as a terrorist organization.
Red Cross responds to criticism: 'We don't have superpowers'
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has faced criticism for not taking part in the negotiations that led to the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza or Palestinians from Israeli prisons, instead maintaining a role of transferring the freed hostages.
"From time to time, we have to tell people we're not bulletproof," ICRC spokesman Jason Straziuso said in remarks to the AFP news agency.
"We don't have superpowers. We can only take humanitarian action when the authorities in a given area give us the permission," Straziuso added.
He said that such criticism showed a lack of awareness of the nature of the ICRC's work.
"We are not an intelligence agency," he said, noting that getting access to hostages in Gaza required approval from Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules Gaza and which is recognized as a terrorist organization by several countries.
"We couldn't possibly just simply start walking through Gaza and trying to locate hostages," he said, adding that such an action "could directly put the hostages in danger and it could put our team in danger."
Hamas claims deadly Jerusalem shooting
Hamas, the Islamist militant group classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US, along with several other countries, has said its militants carried out a shooting in Jerusalem that killed three people on Thursday.
While claiming responsibility for the deadly shooting, Hamas said the attack was in response to deaths in the Gaza Strip.
The development threatens a fragile truce. It came just hours after Hamas and Israel agreed to extend a pause in fighting in Gaza for another day, along with the release of more Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners.
More than 1,130 aid trucks enter Gaza during truce: Red Crescent
The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said Thursday that 1,132 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip since the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas militants began last Friday.
"Since the beginning of the truce until yesterday, PRCS staff and volunteers have received 1,132 aid trucks via Rafah Crossing," the relief group said on social media.
German foreign minister welcomes truce extension
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the extension of a temporary truce between Israel and the Islamist militant group Hamas is "enormously important."
"It is clear that we must build a bridge from the ceasefire to a political process," Baerbock told reporters on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Skopje.
The continued truce should be used "to ensure that people who have been taken hostage in the most brutal way are finally returned to their families," she said.
The foreign minister added that peace for both Israelis and Palestinians depends on mutual solutions for providing security to both groups.
"This also means that terrorism must not be given a chance," Baerbock said, emphasizing that it was important that Hamas not be allowed to "regroup."
Hamas is designated as terrorist organization by Germany, the US, Israel, the EU and multiple other counties.