US hopes for extended Gaza truce to continue hostage releases, Gaza aid deliveries

The United States welcomed an agreement Monday to extend a truce between Israel and Hamas by two days, saying it was hopeful the humanitarian pause would continue for longer still.

“Of course we welcome the announcement,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters after mediator Qatar said the initial four-day truce was to be lengthened.

“We would of course hope to see the pause extended further, and that will depend upon Hamas continuing to release hostages.”

Hamas had committed to releasing another 20 women and children held hostage in the Gaza Strip over the next two days, he added.

Kirby held out little hope however that the truce could become a more permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

“I won’t speak for the Israeli Defense Forces, but when these pauses are over, they have made it very clear that they’re going to continue to target Hamas leadership,” Kirby said.

Biden nevertheless believed that his approach was “getting results” both in terms of freeing hostages and getting aid to civilians enduring dire conditions in Gaza, Kirby said.

The US president had been “personally involved” in getting the truce deal in place, resolving a “snag” over the weekend, and getting the extension of the pause, he added.

Hamas staged the deadliest attack in Israel’s history on October 7 when it broke through Gaza’s militarized border on October 7. Israel says the attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and around 240 more were taken hostage, among them elderly people and children.

In response, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which the Hamas government says has killed 15,000 people, thousands of them children.

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