Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel released more hostages and prisoners on Tuesday on the fifth day of a pause in fighting in Gaza, a move that was welcomed by the United States and other Group of Seven industrialized nations seeking to prevent the conflict from escalating.
Hamas released an additional 10 Israeli and two Thai hostages, according to the Israeli prime minister's office, bringing the total of freed hostages to 81 during the five-day cease-fire, which was extended for two days from Tuesday.
In turn, Israel freed 30 Palestinian prisoners, according to the Qatari government that mediated the swap deal. Israel has freed a total of 180 Palestinians during the five-day period, according to the Israeli prime minister's office.
Foreign ministers of the G7 countries said in a statement that they "welcome the release of some of the hostages" seized on Oct. 7, when Hamas carried out a surprise attack on southern Israel that triggered the Israeli offensive in Gaza Strip.
"We, as the G7, urge the release of all hostages immediately and unconditionally. We call for the facilitated departure of all foreign nationals," the ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union said.
Their statement also welcomed the recent pause in hostilities, saying that it has allowed "a surge in humanitarian assistance to reach Palestinian civilians in Gaza."
"We support the further extension of this pause and future pauses as needed to enable assistance to be scaled up, and to facilitate the release of all hostages," they said.
Hamas has so far agreed to release Israeli civilians, notably women and minors, and the focus is shifting to whether soldiers and men will also be freed. Foreign hostages released separately from the agreement have included men.
Since the outbreak of the conflict, at least 15,000 Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have been killed in Israel's attacks, according to Gaza authorities. Israel estimates about 1,200 were killed in the attack by Hamas.
The G7 ministers also emphasized in the statement Israel's right to defend itself, while committing to "a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution that enables both Israelis and Palestinians to live in a just, lasting, and secure peace."