Despite fervent appeals led by Russia and its allies, as well as international human rights groups, President Joe Biden stated on Monday that a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza should not occur until Hamas releases its hostages.
When asked during a White House event on “Bidenomics” if he would support calls for a ceasefire, President Biden asserted, “We should have those hostages released, and then we can talk.”
Echoing the sentiment, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN on Monday: “I thought the message was pretty clear to Hamas—release all the hostages. That needs to be the first move here.”
“They gotta release all the hostages. We’re not talking about a ceasefire right now. In fact, we don’t believe that this is the time for a ceasefire,” Mr. Kirby said.
Mr. Kirby emphasized that the U.S. government is working non-stop alongside the Israeli and Egyptian governments to get aid into Gaza through the southern Rafah crossing to Egypt, while negotiation for the release of all American hostages.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters on Monday that any ceasefire would allow Hamas time to rest and regroup, and “to get ready to continue launching terrorist attacks against Israel. ”
“There are rockets, as I said a moment ago, that continue to be launched from Gaza targeting Israel,” he said. “You can understand perfectly clearly why that’s an intolerable situation for Israel, as it would be an intolerable situation for any country that has suffered such a brutal terrorist attack and continues to see the terrorist threat right on its border.”
Russia, China, and Iran are among the voices to call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The White House officials’ comments came shortly after Hamas’s release of two more Israeli hostages, a move attributed to the humanitarian negotiations led by Egypt and Qatar.
Hamas Releases Two Elderly Israeli Hostages
Hamas released Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and Nurit Cooper, 79, from Gaza into Egypt across the Rafah crossing on Monday. Ambulances were ready to transport them for urgent medical attention.
The two Israeli women were abducted along with their husbands from their homes in Kibbutz Nir Oz when Hamas launched its cross-border attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7.
Their husbands, 83 and 85 respectively, remain in Hamas captivity.
Following the women’s release, the Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office expressed gratitude to Egypt and the Red Cross for assistance during the negotiations and transfer.
“The Government of Israel, the IDF, and the entire security establishment will continue to work with the best capabilities, and make every effort, to locate all of the missing and bring all of the captives back home,” the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office stated on X.
Two American Hostages Released Last Week
Hamas freed two American hostages, Judith Tai Raanan and Natalie Raanan, on Friday.
Judith Raanan, aged 59, and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie had been visiting the Nahal Oz, a kibbutz located approximately one mile from the Gaza border.
The visit was part of a trip they took from their residence in Evanston, Chicago, to commemorate the Jewish holidays and celebrate Judith’s mother’s 85th birthday.
The mother and daughter were handed over to Israeli forces at the Gaza Strip border on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister’s Office confirmed.
The group stated that it was releasing the pair for humanitarian reasons as part of an arrangement with the Qatari government.
Doha reportedly holds major sways over Hamas and has previously helped mediate truces between the Gaza-based Islamist group and Israel.
Around 200 hostages, over 10 of whom are Americans, are still being held captive by the group following their surprise attack on Israel earlier this month.
Following their release, President Biden said in a statement he was “overjoyed that they will soon be reunited with their family.”
He concluded: “As president, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans held hostage around the world.”
The number of confirmed hostages seized during the attack by Hamas gunmen, who rampaged kibbutz communities and military bases in southern Israel, has been raised to 222 individuals, as reported by Israel officials on Monday.
The Gaza strip, which accommodates a densely packed population of two million Palestinians, is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe, the United Nations has warned following Hamas’s brutal acts in Israel, which triggered a military response by the Knesset that now seeks to eliminate Hamas once and for all.
Vital supplies are alarmingly scarce for civilians trapped in the unfolding conflict between Hamas and Israel, and the looming prospect of Israel’s ground invasion adds to the urgency of the situation.
From The Epoch Times