Washington, Nov 25 (IANS): US President Joe Biden hoped on Saturday that more American hostages will be released in the 2nd lot of the Hamas and Israel exchange of prisoners and hostages on the 2nd day of ceasefire in Gaza after two were freed in the first lot on Friday.
P:resident Biden has secured the release of two American citizens as part of the larger group of around 50 hostages to the four-day pause in fighting, a White House official announced. But media reports said Biden's assurances of more Americans being released in the first lot was belied by Hamas.
"We are early in the process that will see at least 50 women and children released during the first phase of the agreement," said an US government official who did not want to be identified.
"We are hopeful that will include three dual national women and children, who are American citizens. This will unfold over the coming days. We will not comment on individual cases as the process is underway,” the official said.
President Biden said on a nationally televised address that his plan for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in order to help end "this cycle of violence was the only viable solution to the end of the war and its horrors.
"Our resolve to pursue a two-state solution ... is more important now than ever," he said as he welcomed the release of Israeli hostages while at the same time, saying he was looking forward to more people being let go as well as the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid.
"To continue down the path of terror and violence and killing and war is to give Hamas what they seek, and we can’t do that," Biden said..
A Qatari operations team landed in Tel Aviv on Saturday to "ensure the truce deal continued smoothly. A diplomat told NBC News that further details on ceasefire and hostage prisoner swap would be discussed in detail while reviewing the progress of the four-day truce.
On the other hand, a Hamas official said that not enough aid was reaching northern Gaza and said that it could threaten the entire agreement. Within hours the International Red Crescent said 61 trucks had been dispatched to the region today, the "largest" so far.
Taher al-Nono, an adviser to Hamas' political bureau, said that Israel "has not fully committed to" key terms of the cease-fire agreement, particularly with regards to the amount of aid reaching northern Gaza.
"This puts a real risk on completing the process," he said.
According to al-Nono, the agreement said that at least 100 trucks with humanitarian aid would enter Gaza, but that far fewer have reached its northern part.
Other parts of the deal are also being monitored. Qatar’s lead negotiator, Minister Mohammed Al-Khulaifi, told the media that they "remain optimistic" that Hamas will fulfill its promise to find any civilian hostages held by other groups in Gaza. He said they were "monitoring" the Hamas commitment to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to assess all the hostages being released.
More than 1.7 million people have been displaced in Gaza, where health officials say the death toll has surpassed 14,500 since the Israeli attacks. The IDF estimates 1,200 people were killed in the October 7 Hamas attack, with more than 200 people held hostage in Gaza.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are believed to be still in northern Gaza, which has been devastated by the Israeli military attacks.