49 days later: Hamas on Friday afternoon released the first batch of 13 hostages it had been holding since its attack on southern Israel on October 7, as agreed upon in a deal between Israel and Hamas which was approved by the Israeli government earlier this week.

Most of the hostages who have been freed are: Margalit Moses, 77, and Adina Moshe, 72, from Kibbutz Nir Oz.

Danielle Aloni, 44, and her daughter, Emilia, 5. Danielle was featured in a recent video published by Hamas as part of its campaign of psychological terrorism against Israel.

Ruth Munder, 78, her daughter Keren, 54, and Keren’s son, Ohad, who celebrated his ninth birthday in captivity last month.

Also freed was Hannah Katzir, 77, who recently appeared in a propaganda video released by the Islamic Jihad. The terrorist group just days ago falsely claimed that Katzir had died in captivity.

Yaffa Adar, 85, who was seen being driven in her mobility scooter from Kibbutz Nir Oz to Gaza.

Doron Katz Asher, 34, and, her daughters Raz, 4, and Aviv, 2. The family’s father, Yoni Asher, had become one of the faces of the campaign to release the hostages.

Hannah Perry, 79, from Kibbutz NIrim.

Vehicle carrying released hostages arrives at the Rafah border
Vehicle carrying released hostages arrives at the Rafah borderREUTERS/Reuters TV

Freed hostages enter Israeli territory for the first time:

The IDF's operation to receive the hostages, codenamed "Heaven's Doors", began at 4:00 p.m. (Israel time).

Shortly before 7:00 p.m., the IDF confirmed that the hostages are in Israeli territory.

“IDF Special Forces and ISA Forces are currently with the released hostages. The released hostages underwent an initial medical assessment inside Israeli territory. They will continue to be accompanied by IDF soldiers as they make their way to Israeli hospitals, where they will be reunited with their families,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

“The Israel Defense Forces salutes and embraces the released hostages upon their return home. The IDF, together with the entire Israeli security establishment, will continue operating until all the hostages are returned home,” it added.

“The IDF Spokesperson reiterates the importance of demonstrating patience and sensitivity during this time out of respect for the released hostages and their families,” the statement concluded.

The hostages were released from the Khan Yunis Hospital, where they were held for a short time and were then handed over to the Red Cross, which then transferred them to Egypt via the Rafah Crossing.

As of 5:00 p.m., Israeli officials confirmed that the 13 hostages are in Egypt and will be making their way to Israel soon.

The President of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, later said that the organization that 13 Israeli hostages, as well as 11 Thai hostages who were freed as part of a different deal arranged by the Thai government, are making their way to the Rafah crossing.

The hostages reportedly underwent initial eye tests after being held for in the dark for a long time.

As part of the hostage deal, Israel freed 39 Palestinian Arab prisoners two hours after the Israelis were freed.

On Saturday, a second batch of hostages is scheduled to be released, and the same thing is to occur on Sunday and Monday.

Video: Red Cross vehicles with the Israeli hostages inside

First footage of Israeli hostages inside Red Cross vehicle:

During the operation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant were at the IDF Operations Branch control center at the Kirya in Tel Aviv.

The Prime Minister and the Defense Minister closely monitored the management of the operation to bring the Israelis who have been released from Hamas captivity back to the country.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was accompanied by National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi and his Military Secretary, Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil. Defense Minister Gallant will be accompanied by his Military Secretary, Brig.-Gen. Guy Markizano and the head of his staff, Shachar Katz.

The hostages received noise-canceling headphones especially purchased for them and which are suitable for children in order to make the anticipated helicopter ride back into Israel more pleasant and to make them feel more calm and secure.

Each helicopter was equipped with a medical team from the IDF's pararescue unit, Unit 669, which will include an officer, three combat soldiers, and two doctors. The hostages were welcomed by representatives of the IDF Manpower Directorate, who have accompanied them throughout the ordeal.

All security prisoners released as part of the deal, 24 of whom are female and 15 male, were transferred to the Offer prison, from which they were released.

The prisoners were taken in a concentrated manner to buses provided by the Red Cross, transported to the Beitunia checkpoint just a few hundred meters from the prison, and from there will be free to make their own way to their homes.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)