The Red Cross received 17 hostages released by the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including Israelis, Thais and a girl from the United States.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday welcomed the release of 17 more hostages held by the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip and said he is working for a “two-state solution” as the “only way to ensure the long-term security” of both Israelis and Palestinians.
At a press conference in Nantucket, Massachusetts, Biden expressed hope that the release of hostages will continue, with the intervention of other countries in the region. “We are looking for a way to end this and for all the hostages to be released,” he said.
He had emotional words for Abigail, the four-year-old American girl kidnapped and released today, whom he said has suffered “terrible trauma,” although she is now “free and in Israel.”
“What she (Abigail) endured is unthinkable,” the president said of the girl, whose father was killed in front of her.
Israel received on Sunday 17 hostages released by the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip who were received by the Red Cross and are being transferred to Israeli territory, according to Israeli and Palestinian official sources.
Among those released are 14 Israelis and 3 Thais. One of the Israelis has Russian nationality and was released as a gesture by Hamas to the Russian government, in parallel with the hostages-for-prisoners swap deal, under which 39 Palestinians in Israeli jails are expected to be released this Sunday.
The agreement provides for the release of a total of 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners and could be extended in case Hamas commits to hand over at least ten captives per day. Biden stressed that he will continue to work closely with the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Egyptian President Abdefaltah al Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “to do everything possible to see that all the hostages” are released.
“I will not stop working to achieve that goal, he said, after specifying earlier that he will continue to seek with “all our partners” the “difficult but necessary steps to build an integrated, more prosperous and more peaceful future in the region.”
The Israeli government published on Sunday the names of the 14 Israeli hostages – four women, nine minors and a man with dual Russian nationality – that the Islamist group Hamas released on Sunday along with three Thais, bringing the total number of hostages released since last Friday to 58.
The president was asked if he could use this as an opportunity to extend the lull in the fighting. “I have a feeling that all the players in the region are looking for a way to put an end to this so that all the hostages are released, and…. Hamas no longer has any control over Gaza.”
Israel declared war on Hamas on Oct. 7 following an attack by the Islamist group that included the firing of more than 4,000 rockets and the infiltration of some 3,000 militiamen who killed some 1,200 people and kidnapped more than 240 in Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip.
Israeli air, naval and ground forces have since counterattacked the Palestinian enclave, where they have already killed more than 14,800 people, mostly children and women, and estimate that more than 7,000 are missing under the rubble, so the death toll could be even higher.