Israel-Hamas war

Filipino hostage Jimmy Pacheco among 24 freed by Hamas on first day of truce

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Filipino hostage Jimmy Pacheco among 24 freed by Hamas on first day of truce

FREED. Pictured is Jimmy Pacheco, a Filipino who was part of the initial batch of 24 hostages released by Hamas.

Israel Embassy in Manila

(3rd UPDATE) The release of Pacheco and the other hostages comes during the first day of the war's first truce and includes Israeli women and children and Thai farm workers

MANILA, Philippines – Jimmy Pacheco, a Filipino who was among the hundreds taken hostage by Hamas fighters, was part of an initial batch of 24 hostages released by Hamas on Friday, November 24.

“I am overjoyed to confirm that a Filipino, Mr. Gelionor ‘Jimmy’ Pacheco, was among the first group of 24 hostages released by the Hamas yesterday,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on X on Saturday, November 25.

Pacheco is now in the custody of Israel Embassy officials after being welcomed by senior representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Ambassador to Israel Junie Laylo. He also underwent medical evaluations at Shamir Medical Center, according to an official statement by the Israel Embassy in Manila.

According to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), Pacheco worked as a caregiver for five years in Israel. DMW Officer-in-Charge Hans Leo Cacdac said Pacheco and his family will continue to receive financial help and livelihood assistance from the government once he returns to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the President said that the government “remains concerned” about the whereabouts of another Filipino, Noralyn Babadilla.

“[We] are sparing no effort to locate and secure her if she is indeed found to be one of the hostages,” Marcos added.

Marcos and Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo also both thanked Qatar, which served as the mediator for the ceasefire that allowed the release of hostages.

“We recognize and deeply appreciate Qatar’s mediation efforts resulting in the release of a Filipino national in Gaza,” Manalo said on X.

The release of the hostages comes during the first day of the war’s first truce and includes Israeli women and children and Thai farm workers, after guns fell silent across the Gaza Strip for the first time in seven weeks.

The hostages were transferred out of Gaza and handed over to Egyptian authorities at the Rafah border crossing, accompanied by eight staff members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a four-car convoy, the ICRC said.

Qatar, which acted as mediator for the truce deal, said 13 Israelis had been released, some with dual nationality, plus 10 Thais and a Filipino. Thirty-nine Palestinian women and children detainees were released from Israeli jails.

“We have just completed the return of the first batch of our hostages. Children, their mothers and other women. Each and every one of them is a world in itself,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “But I stress to you, the families, and to you, citizens of Israel: We are committed to returning all our hostages.”

The Israeli hostages released included four children accompanied by four family members, and five other elderly women.

Corinne Moshe, daughter-in-law of 72-year-old Adina Moshe, said her husband and his siblings were waiting at a hospital to be reunited with their mother. “I miss her very, very much, I want her to be back already. I want to have dinner with her and the entire family again,” she said.

Medical checks for released hostages

The Israeli military said the released hostages underwent a medical assessment inside Israeli territory before being taken to hospitals to be reunited with their families.

Under the terms of the four-day Israel-Hamas truce, 50 women and children hostages are to be released in return for 150 Palestinian women and children among thousands of detainees in Israeli jails. Israel says the truce could be extended if more hostages are released at a rate of 10 per day.

Those released on Friday were exchanged for 24 jailed Palestinian women and 15 teenagers. In at least three cases, before the prisoners were released, Israeli police raided their families’ homes in Jerusalem, witnesses said. Police declined to comment.

A source briefed on the negotiations said the release of the Thai workers, who were all men, was unrelated to the truce talks and followed a separate track mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

Thai and Filipino farm workers employed in southern Israel were among around 240 hostages taken to Gaza by gunmen when Hamas fighters launched a killing spree on October 7.

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on social media that 12 Thai workers had been freed, two more than the figure given by the Qataris. No reason for the discrepancy was given. – With reports from Reuters/

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