Uruguayan national Shani Goren Horovitz was among the eight hostages released by the terrorist group Hamas Thursday in exchange for yet another batch of 30 prison inmates from Israeli jails, Qatari government sources confirmed.
Among the Israeli hostages who were released are two minors and six women of dual nationality: a Mexican, a Russian, a Uruguayan. They were handed over to ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross, Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari posted on X. The Israeli hostages who were released included two children and six women of dual nationality.
Since the Nov. 24 truce, Hamas released around ten hostages daily in exchange for three times as many Palestinian prisoners. The ceasefire was extended Thursday for one more day.
Last Saturday, Shani's uncle told the family that he had heard from the Israeli Army that her niece was alive and well. Shani is the granddaughter of Uruguayan citizens and her grandfather is a cousin of Eduardo Bleier, who disappeared during the military dictatorship and whose remains surfaced in 2019. Another cousin of her grandfather is a Holocaust survivor who emigrated to Uruguay when World War II ended.
Tamar Goren, Shani's mother, said she reached her daughter on the phone on Oct. 7 morning when she was abducted, but the call was interrupted when terrorists neared her house in Kibbutz Nir Oz. The 29-year-old Shani was held hostage for more than 50 days by Hamas.
Uruguay's Foreign Ministry thanked the government of the State of Qatar, the government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the International Red Cross for the outstanding and very active role they have played as facilitators in securing Shani's release during this first week of humanitarian truce. The South American country also said the young woman would be during these first hours under strict medical and psychological evaluation protocols established by the Israeli Ministry of Health.
Shani had never applied for Uruguayan citizenship but was granted it nonetheless at the request of her family following her kidnapping.
Eitan Yahalomi, a 12-year-old child released earlier this week, told his family that the young Uruguayan girl took care of him and gave him food during their captivity in the Gaza Strip.
Also released Thursday were Israeli lawyer Amit Soussana, 40, and French-Israeli Mia Schem, 21, the first hostage of whom Hamas released a video a few days after her capture on Oct. 7, in which she appeared with a wound in one arm and called on Israel for her release.
Hamas also said in a communiqué that the Israeli government refused to receive the bodies of the Israeli-Argentinean Silverman Bibas and her children - Kfir Bibas, 10 months old, and Ariel, 4 years old, whom it was holding hostage but who died allegedly due to Israeli bombardments.
In addition, the terrorist group released a video of Yarden Bibas, the father of the family, visibly affected and almost in tears as he accuses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the alleged death of his wife and children. Bibas calls on Israel to agree to the repatriation of the bodies to be buried.
Israeli sources said the case was being investigated and that Hamas had refused to release Yarden Bibas. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari said the video was ''psychological terror'' by Hamas. ''Our hearts go out to him and to the entire Bibas family,'' he added. Hagari insisted that the killing of the Shiri, and their two sons was still unverified.
So far, 105 captives have been released in Gaza, including 81 Israelis and 24 foreigners, while Israel has released 210 Palestinian prisoners, all of them women and minors.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Israel advocating for an extension to the truce. On Thursday he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as with the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. However, Netanyahu told Blinken that he plans to continue the war until three goals are achieved: freeing all the hostages, completely eliminating Hamas, and ensuring that no such threat ever emerges from Gaza again.