White House retracts Biden’s admission of pushing for Gaza invasion delay until more American hostages are released
10/31/2023 // Belle Carter // Views

President Joe Biden was about to board Air Force One on Friday to head to his beach house in Delaware and spend the weekend there when a reporter shouted at him, asking if he wanted Israel to delay the ground invasion. The president answered "Yes," and proceeded to enter the aircraft.

The White House was reported to have been scrambling to backtrack what Biden declared to stick to their narrative that the United States is all in with Israel's anticipated attack on Gaza. Ben LaBolt, White House communications director, immediately walked it back saying the president may have misheard the question. "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."

A recent report indicated that Biden "privately" gave Israel the green light for the Gaza invasion and on Thursday night an invasion appeared imminent. But the next day, two American hostages, mother and daughter Judith Raanan, 59, and Natalie, 17, were released by Hamas after being kidnapped on October 7 and held in Gaza for 13 days. The said release led to calls from some to delay the assault until more hostages could be released. A further 200 hostages are believed to remain in the Iran-backed militant group's captivity. (Related: Hamas FREES 2 American hostages on HUMANITARIAN grounds.)

Earlier, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby claimed they were not "interfering" in Israel's military operations. But he said that the issue of hostages was "front and center on the president's mind when he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu." The release was reportedly negotiated by Qatari mediators, with the involvement of the Red Cross.

Moreover, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) insisted that there could be no delay in their invasion of the enclave. IDF spokesman Major Doron Spielman even accused Hamas of releasing the hostages as a tactic to halt the invasion but this won’t work, Spielman emphasized. "There was going to be no break in Israel’s effort to destroy Hamas," he told CNN.

Netanyahu 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."

President Biden released a photo of Judith and Natalie Raanan speaking with the US leader on the phone after their release

The U.S. embassy in Israel released a photo of the Raanans speaking with Biden after their release.

Israel's military spokesperson Daniel Hagari echoed Netanyahu and emphasized that the war against Hamas was continuing apace. "The top priority of the country is to return all the abductees and locate the missing, in all possible ways: civil, intelligence and military," he said 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."

On the other side of the coin, Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida said the hostages were released in response to Qatari mediation efforts, "for humanitarian reasons and to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless." The group has already demanded from Israel the release of 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the hostages. The group threatened to kill the hostages live on TV if Israel invaded Gaza.

U.S. Democrats are for 'hostage diplomacy' over Israeli ground operations in Gaza

As the White House retracts Biden's admission of preference for the invasion delay until all American and other foreign nationals are released in Gaza, Democratic U.S. senators expressed their stand against an urgent Israeli ground invasion to allow hostage diplomacy. This is to better play out and not exacerbate Gaza's humanitarian crisis, they said.

"I have grave concerns about the wisdom and military efficacy of an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza. There is no doubt that an imminent ground invasion would be catastrophic for innocent Palestinians in Gaza and jeopardize urgent efforts to save hostages," said Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT), who noted, "a ground invasion would further exacerbate the dire conditions in Gaza."

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, agreed. "There are so many factors, rushing into this probably is not the best approach," he told the New York Times while returning from a Congressional delegation to Israel. He described the urban combat Israel will face as a "long-term effort."

Moreover, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) said that "the bombs and missiles from both sides must end, massive humanitarian aid must be rushed to Gaza and the hostages must be returned to their families."

Check out WWIII.news to read more stories on the escalating crisis in the Middle East.

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