Three young Franco-Israelis are part of the group of 11 hostages released Monday, November 27, by Hamas as part of the agreement between the Palestinian Islamist movement and Israel. French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “extremely happy” after the announcement of the release of Erez and Sahar Kalderon, 12 and 16, and Eitan Yahalomi, 12. All three were taken hostage on October 7 during the Hamas attack in southern Israel.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, for her part confided her “immense relief”, while recalling that “France’s number 1 priority” was “to free all our compatriots” still in the hands of the Palestinian movement, mentioning “five French people missing”.

The releases of hostages could continue since Qatar announced a two-day extension of the truce supposed to end Tuesday evening. A pause confirmed by Hamas, but not by Israel.

Lawyers for the Kalderon family told Agence France-Presse (AFP) of their “tremendous joy” after learning that the three teenagers are “now free and in Israeli territory”, even if it “is incomplete” because Ofer (53 years old), the father of Erez and Sahar, “at this time remains in the hands of Hamas and there are still hostages,” declared Mr. Patrick Klugman. Erez and Sahar are French through their mother, Hadas Kalderon, who herself lost her mother, Carmela Dan (80), and her niece Noya (13) in the attack.

Fifty Israelis released since truce began

The families of the three young hostages released Monday made aliyah, or “law of return”, offering Israeli nationality to Jews and their relatives, but maintain “multiple and varied” links with France, said lawyer Sacha Ghozlan, also interviewed by AFP.

“We remain fully mobilized to obtain the release of Elya Toledano and Mia Shem,” two other Franco-Israelis whose fate remains hanging on Hamas’ “bargaining,” he added.

The eleven hostages released Monday evening, eight of whom are minors, are all dual nationals: in addition to the three young Franco-Israelis, six have Argentine nationality and two others German nationality, said Qatar, mediator in the conflict.

These releases bring to 50 the number of Israeli hostages who have been able to leave Gaza since Friday. In total, 150 Palestinian detainees were released in exchange, including 33 on the night of Monday to Tuesday, according to the Israeli Prison Authority, according to a ratio of one hostage for three prisoners. In addition, 19 hostages from outside the truce agreement were released by Hamas, the vast majority of them Thais who worked in Israel.

Unlike Hamas, Israel had not confirmed, early Tuesday, the extension of the pause in fighting until 5 a.m. local time (6 a.m. in Paris) Thursday morning. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office approved the inclusion of “50 prisoners” in the list of Palestinians likely to be released under an extension of the truce.