Release of hostages by Hamas "start of a process": US President Joe Biden

World Saturday 25/November/2023 08:16 AM
Release of hostages by Hamas "start of a process": US President Joe Biden

Washington, DC: Terming the release of the initial batch of hostages as a part of a four-day truce between Israel and Hamas, the "start of a process," President Joe Biden said the United States expects "dozens of hostages" will be returned to their families over the next few days.

"Today's release is the start of a process. We expect more hostages to be released tomorrow and more of the day after and more the day after that. Over the next few days, we expect that dozens of hostages will be returned to their families. We also remember all those who are still being held and renew our commitment to work for their release as well," Biden said in his remarks on Friday.

Biden further said that everyone should be appreciative of the families who have been "reunited with loved ones."

"Two American women and one four-year-old child Abigail, who remain among those missing. We will not stop until we get these hostages brought home and an answer to their whereabouts. I remain in personal contact with the leaders of Qatar, Egypt and Israel to make sure this stays on track and every aspect to the deal is implemented," Biden said.

The US President further said that the hostages who were released on day one of the ceasefire from Gaza have a long journey of healing ahead of them.

He said, "All these hostages have been through a terrible ordeal and this is the beginning of a long journey of healing for them...Today has been a product of a lot of hard work and weeks of personal engagement. From the moment Hamas kidnapped these people, I, along with my team, have worked around the clock to secure the release we saw...I've consistently pressed for a pause in the fighting for two reasons to accelerate and expand humanitarian assistance going into Gaza and to facilitate the lease of hostages."

"Over the past several weeks, I've spoken repeatedly with the Emir of Qatar, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, to help secure this deal and I want to thank all three leaders for their personal partnership to get this done," Biden said.

Biden, also said that Hamas carried out the assault because "they fear nothing more than Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace."

"As we look to the future, we have to end this cycle of violence in the Middle East. We need to renew our resolve to pursue this two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can one day live side by side in a two-state solution with an equal measure of freedom and dignity," Biden said.

As part of the hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, the first group of Israeli hostages has been handed over to the staff of the International Committee for Red Cross, The Times of Israel reported.
The truce brokered by Qatar between Israel and Hamas went into effect at 7 am (local time) on Friday.
The release of 13 hostages, who are mothers and children, is the first of four expected stages. Notably, Hamas has agreed to release some 50 hostages, which include women and children over the four days of the truce with Israel.

In addition to the 13 Israeli hostages, Egypt's government media office said that it has successfully negotiated the separate release of 12 Thai hostages who were abducted during Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7, the report said. Thailand said it believes 26 of its citizens were taken hostage on October 7.

Hamas might eventually free more hostages, in exchange for an extension of the ceasefire by an extra day for each 10 Israeli hostages, according to The Times of Israel report. The released hostages are only a small group out of some 240 people held hostage by Hamas since October 7, when Hamas launched an attack on Israel.