Saturday, March 2, 2024

ARGENTINA | 28-11-2023 14:30

Argentina welcomes release of six citizens held hostage by Hamas

Six citizens with dual nationality released by Palestinian militants; Two groups of three, a mother and two daughters, selected for liberation from kidnapping nightmare.

Argentina’s government has welcomed the release of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, highlighting the global effort that allowed six of its citizens to be released.

In a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires, President Alberto Fernández’s government hailed the news and thanked the Qatari government for its help in “mediation efforts.”

Argentina highlighted the release of six people "who had been identified by our country as hostages and for whom the cooperation of the government of Qatar had been requested in the framework of the mediation efforts."

"Argentina hopes that it will be possible to achieve the unconditional and immediate release of all the hostages who are still in the Gaza Strip, without distinction of nationality, including other Argentines who remain captive," the text added.

A total of 11 people were released by Hamas on Monday as part of a truce agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement that also saw the release of 33 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli custody.

According to Qatar, the released prisoners – who are dual nationals – are three French, two German and six Argentine citizens.

Government sources in Buenos Aires said that two women, one of Argentine nationality and the other married to an Argentine, were released, along with two daughters each.

Local media later identified the Argentines as 51-year-old Karina Engel, and her two daughters, Mika, 18 and Yuba, 11; and Sharon Cunio, 34, and her two three-year-olds Emma and Yuli.

Engel was reportedly recovering from a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery when she and her daughters were abducted from the Kibbutz Nir Oz. 

Cunio is married to an Argentine, David Cunio, who remains a prisoner.

The group of 11 released hostages is now in Israel, where they are receiving medical attention.

In the statement, Argentina highlighted "the grave humanitarian situation prevailing in the Gaza Strip" and expressed its hope that "the level of international aid can continue to increase in order to strengthen assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, which is facing a humanitarian crisis of major proportions.”

Argentina had identified at least 21 nationals missing or in captivity since the October 7 attack by Hamas militants on Israeli territory. Fifteen are still being held, including a baby who was just four months old when she was kidnapped.

Earlier on Monday, a two-day truce extension was agreed, which will require at least 10 hostages to be released from the Gaza Strip each day in exchange for three times as many prisoners held by Israel.



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