Lazy eyes listen
US Vice President Joe Biden has voiced optimism that an agreement to liberate Hamas hostages in the Gaza Strip could be reached soon, despite the militant group’s ongoing conflict with Israel.
“I’ve been talking with the people involved every single day,” Biden said to reporters at the White House on Tuesday. “I believe it’s going to happen, but I don’t want to get into detail.” When asked what message he has for the captive families, he said, “Hang in there.” We’ll be there.”
Biden did not provide a timetable for reaching a deal on the Hamas hostages, nor did he comment on the potential scope of a hostage release. A senior US official appeared to retract his statement, warning CNN that the negotiations were still turbulent and could end in failure.
The Israeli government has estimated that around 240 hostages are still being held in Gaza more than a month after the Hamas attacks that ignited the region’s latest war on October 7. Hamas fighters killed an estimated 1,200 people, and the group claimed to have taken enough hostages to secure the release of all Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
Only four of the hostages, including two Americans, have been released, while Israeli troops rescued a captured soldier. According to media sources, negotiations are centred on a prisoner swap in exchange for the release of dozens of hostages. Hamas is also pushing for a cease-fire. According to local authorities, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been murdered since the battle began.
In a statement issued on Monday, Hamas stated that it is willing to release up to 70 women and children in exchange for 275 Palestinian prisoners and a five-day cease-fire. The negotiations are apparently being mediated by Qatar and involve Mossad and the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States.
Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been under increasing political pressure to release the captives, as well as appeals from humanitarian organisations to enforce a cease-fire. Nine Americans are still missing and could be among the captives. According to the White House National Security Adviser, US officials do not know how many of those Americans are still alive.