Hamas claims 'four commanders' killed as third group of hostages to be released

Hamas claims 'four commanders' killed as third group of hostages to be released

Hamas has claimed four of its commanders have been killed in the Gaza Strip ahead of the release of the third group of hostages.

The militant group said the commander of the North Gaza brigade Ahmad Al Ghandour was one of the four killed on Sunday.

"Al Ghandour (Abu Anas) is the member of the military council and the commander of the North Brigade," Al Qassam Brigades said in a statement published on their Telegram channel.

This comes as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said it had received a list of names of people due to be freed on Sunday.

The list is being checked by security officials and the families of those held captive have been informed.

Thirteen more Israeli hostages and four Thai captives were released last night after a fraught delay when Hamas accused Israel of not honouring terms.

Among those freed was Irish-Israeli Emily Hand, nine, who had been at a sleepover at a friend's house and was at first thought to have been killed.

Most of the Israeli hostages are believed to have been abducted from Kibbutz Be'eri.

They were named as mothers and daughters Sharon Avigdori, 52, and Noam, 12; Shiri Weiss, 53 and Noga, 18; and Shoshan Haran, 67, her daughter Adi Shoham, 38.

Adi's children Yahel, three, and Naveh, eight, were also released.

The other Israeli youngsters liberated were Noam Or, 16, and Alma Or, 13 - whose mother Yonat was murdered while their father and cousin remain in captivity.

Hila Rotem, 12, was also released but her mum Maya, 54, is still being held. Maya Regev, 21, was freed too. Seven Thai nationals were due to be handed over to the Israelis but only four appeared.

Thirty-nine Palestinian prisoners were released under the terms of the deal.

The second group was delayed yesterday when Hamas claimed promised aid had not arrived in northern Gaza. It also said the terms of the release of Palestine prisoners, three for each Israeli, had not been adhered to .

But hope was restored as a spokesman for Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Majed Al-Ansari, said last night the "obstacles were overcome" and hostages would be freed along with a further seven civilians.

The first stage of a swap between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas was carried out on Friday afternoon when 24 hostages, 13 of which were Israeli hostages, were released.