Hamas handed over 13 Israeli hostages and four foreigners to the International Committee of the Red Cross on Saturday night, Qatar's foreign ministry said, after a brief disruption earlier to the deal to free captives was overcome with the mediation of Qatar and Egypt.
The Gaza hostage deal was back on track after a temporary delay over a dispute about aid supplies to the north of the besieged enclave.
"13 Israelis and 4 foreigners were received by ICRC and on their way to Rafah," Qatar's foreign ministry spokesman, Majed Al Ansari, said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
TV images showed Red Cross vehicles at Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
A Palestinian official familiar with the diplomacy said Hamas would continue with the four-day truce agreed with Israel, the first break in fighting in seven weeks of war.
Al Ansari earlier said a brief delay and obstacle to the hostage release were overcome through Qatari-Egyptian contacts with both sides, adding that 39 Palestinian civilians were going to be released in exchange.
Among the Israeli hostages, eight were expected to be children and five others women, Al Ansari said, while the Palestinians to be released from Israeli prisons would consist of 33 children and six women.
The armed wing of Hamas had earlier said it was delaying Saturday's scheduled second round of hostage releases until Israel met all truce conditions, including committing to let aid trucks into northern Gaza.
Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan said only 65 of 340 aid trucks that had entered Gaza since Friday had reached northern Gaza, which was "less than half of what Israel agreed on."
Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter, a member of Israel's security cabinet, told Channel 13 News that Israel was "abiding by the deal" with Hamas that Qatar had mediated. (Reuters)