1 Pinoy included in 1st batch of hostages Hamas released

A FILIPINO was among the first batch of 24 hostages released by Hamas Friday under a four-day cease-fire deal that is expected to see 50 hostages seized by Hamas during its Oct. 7 incursion into Israel, and 150 Palestinian prisoners freed.

But the fate of another Filipino, also believed to have been taken hostage, remains unknown.

Filipino hostage Gelienor “Jimmy” Leaño Pacheco, 33, was released by Hamas, his wife, Clarice Joy Ponce Pacheco, confirmed in a post on her Facebook page on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023.

Clarice released a photo of her husband reunited with his employers, whom she called “Sir Ido and Sir Gilad,” and whom she thanked for never leaving him or their family during this ordeal.

“Let’s pray that all the hostages left will (be) release(d) soon,” Clarice said, after thanking all those who had prayed for and helped her husband.

Pacheco was among the first batch of 24 hostages released—which included 13 Israeli citizens and 10 Thai citizens—under a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas brokered by Qatar and other countries, the Associated Press reported.

The 13 Israeli women and children freed from Gaza were mostly in their 70s or 80s, and the youngest was a two-year-old.

Israel — wrenched by the abduction of nearly 240 people in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war — cheered the release.

Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners later in the day.

Pacheco had been caring for an elderly man who lived in Nir Oz, one of more than 20 towns and villages in southern Israel that was ambushed in the sweeping assault by Hamas launched from the embattled Gaza Strip.

The village said Friday that it welcomed Pacheco’s return, calling him “the devoted carer of the late Amitai Ben-Zvi, who was murdered during the terrorist attack.”

Another hostage

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wrote on X Saturday that Pacheco is now in the care of the Philippine Embassy in Israel.

The Israeli Embassy in Manila said Pacheco is being medically evaluated.

Marcos said the government remains concerned about the whereabouts of Filipino national Noralyn Babadilla, who also reportedly was taken hostage by Hamas.

Truce

With the truce deal comes increased shipments of fuel and supplies into Gaza — though aid groups say that’s still only enough to dent the needs of the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza who have endured weeks of Israeli bombardment. Israel has agreed to allow the delivery of 130,000 liters (34,300 gallons) of fuel a day into besieged Gaza for humanitarian needs for the duration of the truce.

More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza after a dayslong pause in its casualty report, which it attributed to the health system’s collapse in northern Gaza making it impossible to provide a detailed count.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will press ahead with the war after the cease-fire expires. Some 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, mostly during the initial incursion by Hamas.

Islamic Jihad

The leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group said Friday that Israeli soldiers among the 240 hostages held by militant groups in Gaza will only be released in exchange for all the Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Islamic Jihad is reportedly holding about 40 of the hostages who were captured by Hamas and other militant groups during their Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.

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