The US government has pressured Israel to postpone its imminent invasion of Gaza to allow the release of more Hamas hostages and provide aid to Gaza, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.
The release of two Americans detained by Hamas on Friday indicates the possibility of releasing more than 200 people believed to have been kidnapped by the armed movement after its bloody attacks two weeks ago.
“the [administration] “I pressed the Israeli leadership to postpone due to progress on the hostage front,” and the need to get aid trucks into Gaza, said one person familiar with the discussions.
The National Security Council did not immediately respond for comment.
When US President Joe Biden was asked on Saturday whether he was encouraging Israel to delay the invasion, he replied: “I am talking to the Israelis.”
Qatar, which plays the role of mediator between the United States and Israel, has been leading discussions with Hamas about the release of the hostages since they were kidnapped by Hamas two weeks ago. According to a diplomat familiar with the talks, the negotiations included talks about delivering much-needed aid to Gaza and the need for a temporary ceasefire to remove prisoners. Israel did not indicate that it was considering a ceasefire.
Hamas does not appear to have gained anything concrete from the release of Judith Tai and Natalie 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 persons” whom it identified by name. The statement said that “the same procedures” that were used to release Raan’s family would be applied in the proposed new release process.
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.
“Which [military] The official said the pressure will not ease because they have been released. He added: “This will not change the mission, which is to dismantle Hamas.”
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