President Joe Biden of the United States declared on Monday that discussions concerning a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip would only be possible if Hamas releases all individuals captured in Israel during the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel.
United States’ priority is to get all hostages released, only then can negotiations begin, Biden articulated while exiting a White House function, responding to journalists who inquired if he endorsed a swap of hostages for a ceasefire.
Without going into detail, Biden expressed regret for his brevity, citing an immediate need for his attendance in the White House Situation Room for another pressing issue.
This statement arrives on the heels of an announcement by Hamas on Monday, confirming the release of two additional female hostages, both of whom are senior Israeli citizens. Just last week, through Qatari mediation, Hamas set free two US nationals of Israeli descent—Judith and Natalie Raanan.
John Kirby, the spokesperson for national security at the White House, conveyed on CNN on Monday that the current moment is not conducive for a ceasefire between Israel and the militants of Hamas.
“We don’t believe that this is the time for a ceasefire,” Kirby stated. “Israel’s primary objectives are self-defense in response to the Hamas attacks and ensuring the future security of Israel”.
On the same day, Israel updated the tally of individuals held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The count escalated to 222, all of whom were abducted on October 7 during a terrorist attack by Hamas targeting kibbutz, municipalities, and military installations in southern Israel.
Israeli authorities have labeled the onslaught as the deadliest attack in Israel’s history, resulting in 1,400 fatalities.
In retaliation, Israel initiated an extensive military operation across the Gaza Strip. According to the Health Authority in Hamas-controlled Gaza, the bombardment has resulted in over 5,000 casualties.