Hamas hostage deal 'going to happen' – Biden
US President Joe Biden has expressed confidence that an agreement to free the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza will soon be completed amid the ongoing incursion into the Palestinian enclave by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and growing global outrage over mass civilian deaths.
“I’ve been talking with the people involved every single day,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday at the White House. “I believe it’s going to happen, but I don’t want to get into detail.” When asked what message he has for families of the hostages, he replied, “Hang in there. We’re coming.”
While Biden offered no timeline nor potential scope of a hostage release, a senior US official appeared to walk back his statement, telling CNN that the negotiations remained volatile and could break down. “It’s closer, but it’s not done,” the unidentified insider told the network.
The Israeli government has estimated that around 240 hostages are still being held in Gaza more than a month after the October 7 Hamas attacks that ignited the region’s latest war. Fighters from the militant group, which maintains de facto rule in Gaza, killed an estimated 1,200 people, before claiming to have taken enough hostages to secure the release of all Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
Just four of the hostages, including two Americans, have been released, and Israeli troops were also able to rescue a soldier who had been captured. Media reports have suggested that negotiations are centered on a prisoner swap for the release of dozens of hostages. Hamas also is pressing for a ceasefire. More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting began, according to the exclave's authorities.
Hamas said in a statement on Monday that it’s prepared to release up to 70 women and children in return for 275 Palestinian prisoners and a five-day halt to the fighting. The talks are reportedly being brokered by Qatar and involve the Mossad and the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have faced increasing political pressure to free the hostages, as well as calls from humanitarian organizations to implement a ceasefire. Nine US citizens remain missing and could be among the hostages. The White House National Security Advisor said earlier this week that US officials don’t know how many of those Americans are still alive.