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Biden ‘expects' some Americans will be released during Israel-Hamas truce

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President Biden said Friday that he expects Americans to be among dozens of hostages released by Hamas in Gaza this week during a truce deal in the Israel-Hamas war.

At a press conference Friday, Biden said he could not confirm the health status of the approximately 10 Americans believed to be held hostage by Hamas, but that he “expects” some of them to be among the 50 hostages planned to be released in the coming days.

“We don’t know when that will occur, but we expect it to occur,” Biden said on the release of American hostages.

The truce deal, announced Wednesday, began early Friday as 12 Thai and 13 Israeli hostages were released by Hamas. As part of the deal, 39 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel were released to the West Bank.

No Americans were among the first wave of released hostages.

A total of 50 hostages are expected to be released over four days, with fighting between Israel and Hamas on pause. Biden said he is “hopeful” that the four-day truce will be extended and more hostages will be released.

“That’s our goal,” Biden said of an extension to the deal.

He celebrated the deal Friday as a triumph of diplomacy between the U.S., Qatar, Israel and Hamas, as well as other regional powers.

“Today has been a product of a lot of hard work and weeks of personal engagement,” Biden said. “The moment Hamas kidnapped these people, I along with my team, have worked around the clock to secure their release.”

“All of these hostages have been through a terrible ordeal, and this is the beginning of a long journey of healing for them,” he continued. “The teddy bears waiting to greet those children at the hospital are a stark reminder of the trauma these children have been through and such a very young age. Jill and I and our children with me are keeping them all in our prayers.”

The hostage deal was a culmination of weeks of negotiations involving the White House and foreign governments. It is also expected to advance humanitarian aid in Gaza, which Biden said is a priority of his administration.

“Note, this extended pause in the fighting brings a critical opportunity to deliver much needed food, medicine, water and fuel to the civilians in Gaza,” he said. “And we are not wasting one single minute.”

Biden said that more than 200 trucks filled with humanitarian aid arrived at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Friday, including trucks with critical fuel supplies. The enclave ran out of fuel last week, plunging hospitals into darkness and threatening the water supply.

“And hundreds more trucks are getting in position as well, ready to enter Gaza over the coming days to support the innocent Palestinians who are suffering greatly because of this war that Hamas has unleashed,” Biden continued. “Hamas doesn’t give a damn about them.”

The president also reiterated his administration’s support for a two-state solution in Israel and an independent Palestinian government in Gaza, free from Hamas. Israeli leaders have denounced such plans in recent weeks, despite pressure from the Biden administration.

“As we look to the future, we have to end the cycle of violence in the Middle East,” Biden said. “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 equal measures of freedom and dignity.”

Source: The Hill

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