US President Joe BIden/File Photo: AP
WASHINGTON DC: US President Joe Biden said he believes hostages being held by Hamas militants in Gaza are going to be released, but he gave no timetable.
“I have been talking to people involved every single day,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “I believe it is going to happen, but I don’t want to get into details.”
He sent a message to the estimated 240 hostages being held by U.S.-designated terror group Hamas: “Hang in there. We are coming.”
U.S. officials have said in recent days they have been working with Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials to secure the release of the hostages, only four of whom Hamas has freed since capturing them during its shock October 7 attack on the Jewish state.
The United States says that among the hostages are nine Americans and a foreign national with U.S. employment rights.
Meanwhile, Biden said hospitals in Gaza “must be protected” as Israeli forces continue to target healthcare facilities in the Palestinian enclave over claims Hamas is using them as cover to hide its command centers and weaponry.
The president was responding to reports of the worsening crisis at Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza City’s main medical center, which has been surrounded and under siege by Israeli forces for several days.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters aboard Air Force One that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members operate a command-and-control node from Al Shifa and use tunnels underneath to support their military operations and hold hostages.
He said the militants have stored weapons there and are prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility.