The administration of United States President Joe Biden has said that securing the release of the more than 240 captives held by Hamas will require a “very significant pause” in fighting in Gaza.
“It is something that is under a very serious and active discussion. But there is no agreement as of yet to actually get this done,” a senior Biden administration official was quoted as saying by multiple news agencies on Friday.
The official, who spoke to journalists on condition of anonymity, said Washington was “doing everything we possibly can” to get the captives out of Gaza, including “indirect engagement”.
“We’re hopeful and doing everything we possibly can to get the hostages out, but there’s absolutely no guarantee, a – that it is going to happen, or b – when it’s going to happen,” the official was quoted as saying.
The official’s remarks came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ruled out any temporary ceasefire until Hamas releases all captives, following a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv.
Pushing back against Blinken’s call for “humanitarian pauses” to protect civilians and allow aid into the besieged enclave, Netanyahu said Israel would continue “full force” until all captives go free.
The Biden administration has been in constant discussion with Israel and “asking hard questions” about its objectives and whether it was achieving them, the official was quoted as saying.
Hamas, which governs Gaza, killed more than 1,400 people and took more than 240 others captive during its October 7 attacks on southern Israel, according to Israeli officials.
Many of the captives are believed to still be in Gaza, which has been under intense bombardment by Israeli forces for almost a month.
The Biden official was also quoted as saying that Hamas provided a list of injured Palestinians for evacuation, but it was deemed to be “unacceptable” by the US, Israel and Egypt as one-third of the names were Hamas members.