US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he is in daily contact with the parties involved in the negotiations to free the hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He expressed confidence that an agreement to free the captives will soon be reached despite the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel.
Biden told reporters at the White House, “I’ve been talking with the people involved every single day. I believe it’s going to happen, but I don’t want to get into detail. Hang in there. We’re coming.” However, he did not provide a specific timeline for an agreement or comment on the potential scope of a hostage release.
A senior US official later tempered Biden’s statement, cautioning that the negotiations were volatile and could still break down. The Israeli government estimates that approximately 240 hostages are still being held in Gaza, a month after the Hamas attacks that sparked the latest wave of violence in the region.
Hamas has claimed to have taken enough hostages to secure the release of all Palestinians being held in Israeli jails. The militant group’s fighters reportedly killed an estimated 1,200 people in the conflict. So far, only four hostages, including two Americans, have been released. In addition, an Israeli soldier who had been captured was rescued by Israeli troops.
Media reports have suggested that the negotiations are focusing on a potential prisoner swap for the release of numerous hostages, with Hamas also pressing for a ceasefire. More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting began, according to local authorities.
Hamas issued a statement on Monday indicating that it is prepared to release up to 70 women and children in exchange for 275 Palestinian prisoners and a five-day halt to the fighting. The talks are reportedly being facilitated by Qatar and involve the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, and the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Both President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are facing mounting political pressure to secure the release of the hostages, as well as calls from humanitarian organizations to implement a ceasefire. Nine US citizens remain missing and could be among the hostages. White House National Security Adviser also stated earlier in the week that US officials do not know how many of those Americans are still alive.
The negotiations to secure the release of the hostages and the potential implementation of a ceasefire remain critical issues amid the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel. The US government, in collaboration with international partners, is exerting significant diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation and ensure the safe return of the hostages. The situation is continuously evolving, and the successful outcome of the negotiations remains uncertain. However, President Biden’s commitment to daily engagement with the involved parties reflects the administration’s dedication to achieving a positive resolution to the crisis.