The US president has reportedly suggested that a halt to the fighting could help secure releases of some hostages by Hamas
US President Joe Biden has reportedly urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pause attacks against Hamas for three days, saying such a halt to the fighting in Gaza could enable negotiators to secure the release of more hostages.
Under a proposal being discussed between the US, Israel and Qatar, Hamas would release 10 to 15 hostages during a three-day pause and verify the identities of its remaining captives, Axios reported on Tuesday. The militant group also would deliver a list of those hostages, the outlet said, citing an unidentified US official.
Biden and Netanyahu discussed the proposal during their telephone call on Monday, according to the report. While continuing to oppose a general ceasefire in the war with Hamas, US officials have repeatedly suggested in recent days that tactical pauses could be used to free hostages, get more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip and enable more Palestinian civilians to evacuate the area where Israel’s incursion has been focused.
Netanyahu has stridently rejected the possibility of a ceasefire, saying calls for such a halt to the fighting are “calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas.” He has demanded that all of the approximately 240 hostages held by Hamas be released before any ceasefire is considered.
However, he told ABC News on Monday that short pauses would be possible to facilitate aid shipments and hostage releases. “As far as tactical little pauses – an hour here, an hour there – we’ve had them before,” he said. “I suppose we’ll check the circumstances, in order to enable goods, humanitarian goods, to come in, or our hostages, individual hostages, to leave.”
Hamas fighters killed an estimated 1,400 people during surprise attacks against villages in southern Israel on October 7, and the group claimed to have taken enough hostages to secure the release of all Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
Four of the hostages, including two Americans, have been released, and Israeli troops rescued a soldier who had been captured by Hamas. The group claimed in a statement on Tuesday that it was prepared to release 12 foreign nationals, but it couldn’t do so because of Israeli airstrikes and ground attacks.
Netanyahu told Biden that he doesn’t trust Hamas and doesn’t believe the group is ready to agree to a hostage deal, Axios said, citing unidentified US and Israeli officials. He also suggested that Israel might lose international support for its incursion during a three-day pause. Netanyahu noted that Hamas attacked Israeli soldiers and captured one of them during a humanitarian pause to its 2014 war with West Jerusalem.
A ceasefire would hinder efforts to free more hostages, Netanyahu told ABC. “The only thing that works on these criminals in Hamas is the military pressure that we’re exerting,” he said.
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