The US government, along with some European allies, is reportedly urging Israel to postpone its planned ground attack on the Gaza Strip. The aim is to negotiate the release of more hostages held by Hamas, according to Bloomberg. Israel had previously indicated that it would deploy troops to Gaza, but under pressure from the US, it has agreed to hold off for now.
Hamas, the Palestinian militant faction that governs Gaza, captured over 200 people, including several US citizens, in a terrorist attack on Israel on October 7. In the weeks since the attack, the US has participated in secret talks mediated by Qatar in an effort to secure the release of the captives.
On Friday, it was confirmed that two American hostages, Judith Tai Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie Raanan, had been released. They are now in the care of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), who attribute their release to military pressure placed on Hamas. The Qatari Foreign Ministry hailed their release as a breakthrough, stating that it came after days of continuous communication between all parties involved. The ministry expressed its commitment to ongoing dialogue with Hamas in the hopes of freeing all civilian hostages of various nationalities.
Despite publicly voicing support for Israel, US officials have warned against a lengthy occupation of Gaza in private discussions. CNN reports that one unnamed NATO defense minister stated that while Israel’s allies understand and respect its right to go after Hamas, they have urged caution and advised Israel to have a strategy rather than just a tactical maneuver. Western governments have called for Israel to act within international humanitarian law while acknowledging the challenges the country faces in dealing with its enemy.
When asked on Friday if Israel should delay the ground operation, President Joe Biden initially responded with a “Yes.” However, the White House later clarified that the president had misheard the question and was actually responding to whether he would like to see more hostages released. The incident highlights the delicate nature of negotiations and the complexity of the situation in Gaza.
The ongoing violence has taken a heavy toll on both sides, with thousands reported dead and injured. Local officials have reported over 4,100 Palestinians and around 1,400 Israelis killed. In response to the Hamas attack, the IDF has carried out weeks of intense airstrikes on Gaza. The United Nations and human rights groups have warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in the enclave.
While efforts are being made to secure the release of hostages and to prevent further escalation of the conflict, the situation in Gaza remains extremely volatile. The international community continues to monitor the developments closely and to call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.