Hamas has released two Israeli-Russian hostages, who are now with Israeli special forces, the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli Security Agency said in a joint announcement Wednesday.
The hostages have been identified as Irena Tatti, 73, and her daughter Elena Trufanova, 50.
This was the sixth release of hostages under a temporary cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas. The terrorist organization had previously released 60 Israeli women and children and 21 people of other nationalities since Friday, while Israel had released over 150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange.
Other releases had included a greater number of hostages, who were taken as part of the Hamas terror attacks on Oct. 7, in which at least 1,200 Israelis were murdered. More hostages are expected to be released later in the day.
Wednesday’s exchange comes as officials from Israel, the U.S. and Qatar negotiate a potential second extension of the current cease-fire. Israel and Hamas originally agreed to a four-day cease-fire on Friday before extending it another two days on Monday.
If no agreement is made, Israel may resume its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza on Thursday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing some internal pressure to end the cease-fire. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has warned that ending the war against Hamas would mean dissolving Netanyahu’s government.
Nevertheless, many international organizations, and even the U.S., are urging Israel to accept a longer-term cease-fire or truce.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken is set to travel to Israel and the West Bank later this week to encourage an extended cease-fire.
Netanyahu has previously vowed to ‘destroy’ Hamas entirely, an objective that becomes less and less possible the longer a cease-fire lasts.