The deaths in Gaza, the Israeli response and more
The United States is seeking to delay the Israeli ground incursion to allow more time for hostage negotiations
The US government has pressured Israel to delay its impending operation in Gaza to allow the release of more Hamas hostages and the entry of aid into Gaza, according to two sources familiar with the talks.
The release of two Americans detained by Hamas on Friday indicates the possibility of releasing more of the approximately 200 people believed to be held by the armed movement after its deadly attacks two weeks ago.
“The government urged Israeli leaders to postpone them due to progress on the hostage front” and the need to send aid trucks to Gaza, a person familiar with the talks said.
The National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When US President Joe Biden was asked on Saturday whether he was encouraging Israel to delay the invasion, he replied: “I’m talking to the Israelis.”
Qatar, which acts as a mediator between the United States and Israel, has been leading talks with Hamas on the release of the hostages since they were kidnapped by Hamas two weeks ago. According to a diplomat familiar with the talks, the talks included topics such as the arrival of much-needed aid to Gaza and the need for a temporary ceasefire to release prisoners. Israel did not indicate that it was considering a ceasefire.
Hamas does not appear to have achieved any tangible gains from the release of Judith Tai and Nathalie Raanan on Friday.
The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, said in a statement on Saturday that it was ready to release “two detained individuals” whom it identified by name. The statement said that “the same procedures” that were used to release Raan’s family would be used in the proposed new release.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office responded to the allegation on Saturday evening, saying it would not comment on Hamas’ “false propaganda,” adding that the Israeli government “will continue to do everything necessary to return all prisoners and missing persons to their homeland.”
An official in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office told CNN on Friday, after news of the Americans’ release, that it may have been an attempt by Hamas to downplay Israel’s military response.
“This (military) pressure will not disappear after their release,” the official said. He added that this would not change the mission, which is to dismantle Hamas.