Israel is expecting another group of hostages to be liberated from Gaza after Hamas released Yelena Trupanob, 50, and her 73-year-old mother Irena Tati on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Hostage Family Forum told The Daily Beast.
Ten more hostages are expected to be freed on Wednesday evening, according to an Israeli Defense Forces spokesman, with CBS reporting that an American citizen is among the group.
The newly rescued mother-daughter duo, who emigrated to Israel from Russia, were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz. Yelena’s son, Sasha, 28, and his girlfriend Sapir Cohen, 29, remain captives. Hamas terrorists killed Yelena’s husband, Vitaly Trupanob last month.
Hamas had previously released footage of Trupanob alongside two other hostages. They delivered a statement, likely under duress, calling for hostages to be exchanged for prisoners.
Hamas said it had released two Russian women at the request of Moscow.
“Al-Qassam Brigades release two Russian detainees in response to a request from the Russian leadership,” the group said on Telegram. It’s not clear if the announcement refers to Trupanob and Tati.
National Security Council coordinator John Kirby has told reporters that the White House remains hopeful that Americans will be released soon.
Discussions about releasing men in addition to women and children have recently come up, according to a Qatari official.
“Our negotiations regarding women and children take paramount position within the discussions, but obviously we are moving towards civilian men being released,” Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari said on CNN.
The spokesperson added that Qatar is “very optimistic” about another truce extension.
Although talks remain underway, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war.
“In recent days I’ve heard a question: Will Israel return to fighting after this stage of returning our hostages is over? My response is an unequivocal yes,” the premier says. “There is no way we won’t return to fighting until the end.”
Families who are waiting for news about their loved ones suspected to be held captive continue to hold out hope.
Hamas announced Wednesday that the Bibas family, which is thought to be held captive in Gaza, is no longer alive following Israeli bombings in Gaza. The family believed to be in Gaza includes Shiri, 32, the mother of Ariel, 4, and 10-month-old baby Kfir.
The Bibas family said Wednesday it is waiting for more information or confirmation from official sources.
“Our family has learned of Hamas’ latest claims. We are waiting for the information to be confirmed and hopefully refuted by military officials,” the family said in a statement shared with The Daily Beast. “We thank the people of Israel for their warm support, but kindly request privacy during this difficult time.”