US ‘very much involved’ in release of American hostages, says WH

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US ‘very much involved’ in release of American hostages, says WH
Washington: A senior White House official has said that the US was “very much involved” in securing the release of two American hostages who were held by the Hamas militant group for 14 days.

On Friday, the Hamas released US citizens Judith Tai Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie Raanan, who were kidnapped shortly after the military group launched its massive assault on October 7.

They are now in the care of the Israel Defense Forces.

Speaking to CNN late Friday, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that “we were very much involved at various levels in helping secure their release”, adding that Israel and Qatar also played “key roles”.

Kirby, however, declined to discuss the motivations and details behind Hamas’ willingness to release Judith and Natalie Raanan.

“We know that there’s still some Americans being held hostage, and we want to get them back to their families, too So I hope you can understand that we’re not really going to be able to talk much about motivations and the details here. We’re just glad that they’re safe and sound and hopefully home soon.”

The White House official went on to say that Washington is not “interfering” in Israel’s military operations, but reiterated that the issue of hostages was “front and centre on the President’s mind when he met with the Prime Minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) and he had the chance to meet with some of the families”.

Earlier on Friday, the White House said that President Joe Biden had “completed a call with the two Americans released today after being taken hostage by Hamas during the horrific terrorist assault against Israel”.

“He relayed that they will have the full support of the US government as they recover from this terrible ordeal.

Speaking to reporters later, Biden said the call with the mother-daughter dup “went well”

Meanwhile in a statement issued shortly after the release of the two hostages, the Hamas claimed that they were working with mediators in Egypt, Qatar and other “friendly countries”, CNN reported.

“This commitment remains resolute as we endeavor to enact our decision to release individuals of foreign nationalities under temporary custody, as and when security circumstances permit,” the statement added.

But a senior Israeli military officer said the release of the hostages was the result of the Jewish nation’s sustained “military pressure” on Hamas.

“Pressure has been applied on Hamas, and that pressure will intensify until we hopefully get all of our hostages out,” the official from the Israeli Prime Minister’s office told CNN.

The release of Judith and Natalie Raanan will not change Israel’s plans for Gaza, he added.

“That (military) pressure isn’t going to go because they were released… It won’t change the mission, which is to dismantle Hamas.”

A US official has confirmed that there are more American hostages still being held by Hamas.

Israel previously told the US government that some Americans held hostage by Hamas are known to be alive, a US official told CNN.


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