Defense Minister Yoav Gallant welcomed the release of 13 Israeli hostages who had been held by Hamas since October 7, in the first phase of the agreement which was approved earlier this week.
"We have taken an important first step - we will continue and do everything necessary to return the hostages home. This is our duty to the hostages, to the family members and to the State of Israel," said Gallant.
Minister Benny Gantz said, "The entire State of Israel is today experiencing moments of mixed emotions - joy, pain, sadness and determination. Joy and relief for every soul we save, for every child and mother and grandmother who will return to their family, pain and sadness together with the families whose loved ones have not yet returned and determination to continue fighting until they all return, until we create a different reality and the citizens of Israel will live in complete security."
"Precisely now, when we see the pictures of those who are returning, I would like to send a big hug to the families who are still waiting - all of us, the entire nation of Israel, are with you and with those who are dear to you and to us. The fight for the return of the hostages is our moral order as a country, as a nation and as a society. We will fight for the return home of all the sons and daughters, and we will continue to strike the enemy for the purpose of the safe return home of all the residents of the south and the north," he added.
(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.)