Hamas freed two Israeli women who were among the more than 200 hostages taken during its October 7 rampage in southern Israel while according to some reports the US had advised Israel to hold off on a ground assault in the Gaza Strip.
“We decided to release them for humanitarian and poor health grounds,” Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas militant group, said on Telegram.
The Israeli prime minister’s office issued a statement confirming that the women, whom it named as Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, were handed over to the Israeli military and would be taken to a medical facility.
Israel launched an immediate war on Hamas and more than 5,000 people have since been killed in its air attacks on Gaza, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Here are the live updates on the Israel-Hamas war:
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US President Joe Biden said on Monday that any discussions about a Gaza ceasefire could only take place if Hamas frees all hostages seized from Israel in its October 7 attack.
“We should have those hostages released and then we can talk,” Biden said at a White House event when asked if he would support a “hostages-for-ceasefire” deal.
Biden then apologized for having to leave the event to promote his economic program ahead of next year’s election, saying he had to go to the White House Situation Room for “another issue I have to deal with.”
Some of Israel’s actions in its war against Hamas, like cutting off food and water for Gaza, could “harden Palestinian attitudes for generations” and weaken international support for Israel, former U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday.
In rare comments on an active foreign policy crisis, Obama said any Israeli military strategy that ignores the human costs of the war “could ultimately backfire.”
“The Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water and electricity to a captive civilian population (in Gaza) threatens not only to worsen a growing humanitarian crisis; it could further harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long-term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region,” Obama said.
- Palestinian militant group Hamas said on Monday it had freed two more women hostages abducted to the Gaza Strip from Israel during the October 7 attacks.
- The Islamist group’s military wing said in a statement the two had been freed for “compelling humanitarian” reasons following mediation by Qatar and Egypt.
- There was no immediate confirmation by Israeli authorities but Israeli media reported that the women had been taken to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
- Two American women, a mother and daughter, were freed on Friday.
- Israel on Monday increased the number of hostages it has confirmed to 222 people seized when Hamas gunmen crossed the border and attacked kibbutz communities, towns and military bases in southern Israel.