Sun. May 26th, 2024
alert-–-biden-appears-to-call-for-israel-to-delay-gaza-invasion-to-allow-more-americans-to-be-freed-–-before-white-house-is-forced-to-backtrack:-idf-says-hostage-release-is-a-tactic-‘right-out-of-the-hamas-playbook’-and-nothing-will-stop-ground-warAlert – Biden appears to call for Israel to DELAY Gaza invasion to allow more Americans to be freed – before White House is forced to backtrack: IDF says hostage release is a tactic ‘right out of the Hamas playbook’ and NOTHING will stop ground war

The White House was scrambling to backtrack on Friday night after President Joe Biden, asked whether he was now pushing Israel to delay its invasion of Gaza for the sake of the hostages, replied: ‘Yes’.

Two Americans were released by Hamas on Friday, after being kidnapped on October 7 and held in Gaza for 13 days. A further 200 hostages are believed to remain in Hamas captivity.

Israel’s military has been given the green light to invade, and on Thursday night an invasion appeared imminent.

But Friday’s release of the two Americans – Judith Raanan, 59, and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie – led to calls from some to delay the assault until more hostages could be release.

As the president left the White House on Friday night and boarded Air Force One, to spend the weekend at his beach house in Delaware, a reporter shouted at Biden, asking if he wanted Israel to delay the ground invasion.

‘Yes,’ he said.

Joe Biden is seen on Friday night boarding Air Force One to travel to his beach house in Delaware for the weekend. He was asked whether he wanted Israel to slow its expected invasion of Gaza, to allow more time for negotiations over hostages, and replied: ‘Yes’

The White House immediately said Biden misheard the question, thinking they were asking if he wanted more hostages released

Judith Raanan is seen being escorted out of Gaza on Friday, with her daughter Natalie to her right

Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie Raanan arrived back in Israel late on Friday

Natalie Raanan and her mother Judith are seen speaking to Joe Biden, in a photo released on Friday night by the US embassy in Israel

But Ben LaBolt, the White House communications director, immediately walked it back.

‘The president was far away. He didn’t hear the full question,’ said LaBolt.

‘The question sounded like ‘Would you like to see more hostages released?’ He wasn’t commenting on anything else.’

An IDF spokesman on Friday insisted there could be no delay, accusing Hamas of releasing the hostages as a tactic to halt the invasion – a tactic he said would not work.

Major Doron Spielman told CNN there was ‘going to be no break’ in his country’s effort to destroy Hamas.

Earlier John Kirby, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said they were not ‘interfering’ in Israel’s military operations.

But he did say that the issue of hostages was ‘front and center on the president’s mind when he met with the Prime Minister (Netanyahu) and he had the chance to meet with some of the families.’

The release was negotiated by Qatari mediators, with the involvement of the Red Cross.

After the release of the Raanans, Bloomberg reported that the U.S. and some European governments were pressuring Israel to delay the invasion, and give the Qataris more time for negotiations to free the hostages.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said it would ‘continue our dialogue with both the Israelis and Hamas, and we hope these efforts will lead to the release of all civilian hostages from every nationality.’

The IDF said the majority of hostages are still alive. Among them are 20 children and between 10 and 20 people aged over 60, it said.

‘As of today (Friday), there are 100-200 Israelis who are considered missing persons,’ it added in a statement. 

‘In comparison, on the first day of the war, there were 3,000 people considered missing persons. This number has dramatically decreased as the IDF has confirmed their locations.’

The IDF also stressed the complexity of locating information about missing persons and said that it is in constant communication with the families of the hostages.

Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday celebrated the release of the Americans and said they would work to free the rest – but added that the fight against Hamas would continue ‘simultaneously’ with the negotiations.

‘Two of our hostages are home. We will not ease the effort to bring back all abductees and those missing,’ he said in a statement posted to social media.

‘Simultaneously, we keep fighting until a victory is reached.’

Israel says it’s entering Gaza to rescue the 203 hostages are being held captive by Hamas terrorists

Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers and scores of tanks and armoured vehicles are now positioned on the border

A column of Israeli tanks now sits on the border with Gaza, ready to invade

Israel is preparing to bombard the small strip of land with missiles, before sending in ground troops

Israeli soldiers listen to Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant as he meets them in a field near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel on Thursday

Israel’s military spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, echoed the prime minister on Friday and emphasized that the war against Hamas was continuing apace.

‘The top priority of the country is to return all the abductees and locating the missing, in all possible ways: civil, intelligence and military,’ said Hagari, during a news conference in Tel Aviv.

‘At the same time, we are continuing the war against the Hamas. And getting ready for the next stages of the war.’

Hamas has previously demanded Israel release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the hostages.

The terror group has also threatened to kill the hostages live on television if Israel invades Gaza.

An IDF spokesman, Doron Spielman, said the release of the two Americans would not slow plans to invade Gaza

Spielman, the IDF spokesman, said Hamas’ move was purely to buy time, insisting they had never shown humanitarian concerns.

‘Hamas is trying to paint itself as a human rights organization now. They’ve given back two of the hostages but the real face of evil is still there. Rockets are raining down on Israel.

‘You know, let’s get back all the hostages and then we can begin to speak with them.’

He added: ‘This is right out of the Hamas playbook. It’s a very typical cycle. They attack and massacre and send rockets to Israel, then they run back to Gaza.

‘In the past they hid under their own civilians waiting for us to kill them – and then they turn to America and the international community and claim human rights violations so we’ll stop, so they can regroup.

‘They want to have us pause on eliminating them… [but] we’re at war with them. There’s going to be no break. We’re going to eliminate them.

‘This is just another tactic for them to try to get us to stop. But they’re mistaken. Hamas is an evil that has to be stopped completely. And that’s what we’re going to do.’

Reporters on the ground in the Israel-Gaza border area said on Friday there was a noticeable lull in crossfire, leading them to speculate that something significant could be happening.

When the Raanans were released, Hamas immediately resumed firing rockets in the direction of Israel, CNN’s Nic Robertson reported.

Palestinian media reported heavy Israeli bombardment in Gaza overnight into Saturday, including a strike on a house in Jabalia in northern Gaza that killed at least 19 people.

Palestinians walk by buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment on al-Zahra, on the outskirts of Gaza City, on Friday 

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Friday

Israeli aircraft struck six homes in northern Gaza early on Saturday, killing at least eight Palestinians and injuring 45, Palestinian media reported.

The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the main Palestinian Christian denomination, said that Israeli forces had struck the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City, where hundreds of Christians and Muslims had sought refuge.

Israel has already told all civilians to evacuate the northern half of the Gaza Strip, which includes Gaza City. Many people have yet to leave saying they fear losing everything and have nowhere safe to go with southern areas also under attack.

Asked if Israel had so far followed the laws of war in its response, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated on Friday that Israel had the right to defend itself and make sure Iran-backed Hamas was not able to launch attacks again.

‘It’s important that operations be conducted in accordance with international law, humanitarian law, the law of war,’ he said.

‘There will be plenty of time to make assessments about how these operations were conducted but I can just say from the part of the United States, this continues to be important to us.’

The United Nations humanitarian affairs office said more than 140,000 homes – nearly a third of all homes in Gaza – had been damaged, with nearly 13,000 completely destroyed.

Palestinian emergency services and local citizens search for victims in buildings destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday

Palestinian emergency services and local citizens search for victims in buildings destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday 

A view of a damaged car covered in debris at the site of Israeli strikes on a house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on Friday

Palestinians search the destroyed annex of the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church, the oldest church still in use in Gaza, damaged in a strike on Gaza City on Friday 

Palestinian man grieves over the body of a relative wrapped in a shroud labelled with a name, at the Najjar hospital in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday

International attention has focused on getting aid to Gaza through the one access point not controlled by Israel, the Rafah crossing to Egypt.

Biden, who visited Israel on Wednesday, said he believed trucks carrying aid would get through in the next 24-48 hours.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres toured the checkpoint on Egypt’s side on Friday and called for a meaningful number of trucks to enter Gaza every day and checks – which Israel insists on to stop aid reaching Hamas – to be quick and pragmatic.

Guterres will attend the Cairo Peace Summit on Saturday, attended by Palestine’s president Mahmoud Abbas, the king of Jordan, and other world leaders.

Western leaders have so far mostly offered support to Israel’s campaign against Hamas, although there is mounting unease about the plight of civilians in Gaza.

Many Muslim states, however, have called for an immediate ceasefire, and protests demanding an end to the bombardment were held in cities across the Islamic world on Friday.

In the occupied West Bank, where violence has flared since Israel began its bombardment of Gaza, Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager during clashes near the city of Jericho.

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