Hamas releases two elderly Israeli women hostages

Hamas members have released two elderly Israeli women hostages on Monday (October 23, 2023), media reports said.

Some displaced families in areas of southern Gaza are adapting to conditions as best they can. Photo Courtesy: UNRWA

They were identified as Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85.

The duo was released from Gaza into Egypt late Monday, and were then transferred to the IDF, which brought them to an Israeli hospital for examination, The Times of Israel reported.

At least 220 others — including the respective husbands of both women, Amiram Cooper, 84, and Oded Lifshitz, 83 — are believed to still be held hostage by Hamas, the newspaper reported.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office also confirmed the release and posted on X: "Coordinator for the Captives and Missing Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) Gal Hirsch updates that Nurit Cooper (79) and Yocheved Lifshitz (85) were released by the Hamas terrorist organization."

"Following their handover to the IDF, they are en route to a hospital in Israel, which has been specially prepared to receive them, and where their families are waiting for them. We thank Egypt, for its assistance, and the Red Cross for their important role in saving lives," the office said.  

The death toll from Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip has reached 4,137, and over 15,000 people have been injured, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said on Monday.

"The number of victims of the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip has reached 5,087, including 2,055 children and 1,119 women and 217 elderly people. Also, 15,273 citizens were injured," Al-Qudra said.

Meanwhile, Israel has said that it will not transfer any humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and will also prevent any uncontrolled supplies from other countries.

"Israel will not provide any humanitarian aid to Gaza and will prevent any unsupervised supply from others," the office was quoted as saying by the Haaretz newspaper.

On October 7, Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise large-scale rocket attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israel launched retaliatory strikes and ordered a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip, home to more than 2 million people, cutting off supplies of water, food and fuel.

The blockade was later eased to allow trucks with humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

The escalation of the conflict has resulted in thousands of people killed and injured on both sides.