President Biden and other administration officials said Tuesday that they welcomed the temporary cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas that includes the release of hostages.
Qatari negotiators helped broker the deal, which included Israel’s military agreeing to temporarily stop its airstrikes and ground invasion of Gaza for humanitarian purposes. Additionally, Hamas has agreed to release dozens of hostages in tandem and Israel has agreed to release Palestinian prisoners on a 3-to-1 ratio. Hamas leaders will release one hostage for every three Palestinians that Israel releases from its prisons.
Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken all released statements supporting the agreement between Israeli officials and Hamas terrorists amid the ongoing war in the Middle East.
The president said he welcomes the deal to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas during its ‘brutal assault’ against Israel on Oct. 7 and that he is ‘extraordinarily gratified that some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented.’
‘I thank Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar and President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt for their critical leadership and partnership in reaching this deal,’ Biden wrote. ‘And I appreciate the commitment that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government have made in supporting an extended pause to ensure this deal can be fully carried out and to ensure the provision of additional humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of innocent Palestinian families in Gaza. I look forward to speaking with each of these leaders and staying in close contact as we work to ensure this deal is carried through in its entirety. It is important that all aspects of this deal be fully implemented.’
Biden continued his statement by saying he has ‘no higher priority’ than ensuring American hostages around the world are safely released.
‘That’s why – from the earliest moments of Hamas’s brutal assault – my national security team and I have worked closely with regional partners to do everything possible to secure the release of our fellow citizens,’ Biden wrote. ‘We saw the first results of that effort in late October, when two Americans were reunited with their loved ones. Today’s deal should bring home additional American hostages, and I will not stop until they are all released. Today’s deal is a testament to the tireless diplomacy and determination of many dedicated individuals across the United States Government to bring Americans home.’
Harris said in her statement that she welcomes ‘the commitment that Israel has made to support an extended pause to ensure this deal can be fully carried out and to ensure additional humanitarian assistance reaches civilians in Gaza’ and that ‘the flow of aid must substantially increase and civilians must be protected.’ She also called on Hamas to ‘release all the remaining hostages.’
‘President Biden and I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans, and we welcome that today’s agreement means some Americans should be coming home,’ Harris wrote. ‘As I have told families of Americans held hostage: as they advocate for the release of their loved ones, they are not alone. We will not waver in our commitment to these Americans.’
The office of Israel’s prime minister confirmed that at least 50 women and children taken hostage by Hamas will be released during a four-day pause in the fighting.
In a statement Tuesday night, Blinken wrote that he cannot imagine what the hostages have endured the past few weeks and that he is thankful they will soon be reunited with their loved ones.
‘Today’s outcome is the result of tireless diplomacy and relentless effort across the Department and broader United States government,’ Blinken said. ‘I appreciate the leadership and ongoing partnership of Egypt and Qatar in this work. I also thank the government of Israel for supporting a humanitarian pause that will facilitate the transfer of hostages to safety and allow additional humanitarian assistance to reach Palestinian civilians in Gaza. While this deal marks significant progress, we will not rest as long as Hamas continues to hold hostages in Gaza. My highest priority is the safety and security of Americans overseas, and we will continue our efforts to secure the release of every hostage and their swift reunification with their families.’
Approximately 14,000 people have been killed in Gaza and Israel since Hamas launched its largest attack against Israel in decades on Oct. 7, leading to a military response from Israeli forces. Thousands more have been wounded, and many others have been taken hostage by Hamas and raped, tortured and murdered. About 10 Americans in the region remain unaccounted for.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog also released a statement about the agreement with Hamas, saying ‘[the] reservations are understandable, painful, and difficult, but given the circumstances I back and support the decision of the Prime Minister and the Government to move forward with the deal to release hostages.’
‘This is a moral and ethical duty that correctly expresses the Jewish and Israeli value of securing the freedom of those held captive, with the hope that it will be the first step in returning all the hostages home,’ Herzog wrote. ‘The State of Israel, the IDF, and all the security forces will continue to act in every way possible to achieve this goal, alongside the restoration of the absolute security of the citizens of Israel.’