Biden: Today’s hostage release ‘only a start’; ‘real chance’ truce extends additional days

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US President Joe Biden speaks from Nantucket, Massachusetts on November 24, 2023. (Screen capture/YouTube)
US President Joe Biden speaks from Nantucket, Massachusetts on November 24, 2023. (Screen capture/YouTube)

US President Joe Biden says Americans have another reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving following today’s release of 24 hostages by Hamas.

“Today we can also be thankful for families being reunited with loved ones who have been held hostage for nearly 50 days,” Biden says in prepared remarks to the press in Nantucket, Massachusetts where he is celebrating Thanksgiving.

Thirteen Israelis and 11 foreign nationals from Thailand and the Philippines were released as part of the multi-day truce reached by Israel and Hamas, the first one since the outbreak of the war. At least 50 Israeli women and children held hostage by Hamas are slated for release over the first four days of the truce.

Asked whether he thinks the truce could extend further, which would allow for the release of additional hostages, Biden says, “the chances are real.”

Biden notes that the hostage deal is a result of “extensive US diplomacy, including numerous calls I’ve made from the Oval Office to leaders across the region.” The president makes a point of thanking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with mediators in Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for their cooperation in seeing the deal through.

Biden stresses that today’s releases are “only a start,” while acknowledging that things have “so far gone well.”

“The teddy bears waiting to greet those [released] children at the hospital are a stark reminder of the trauma these children have been through and at such a very young age,” Biden laments, adding that he and his wife Jill are “keeping them all in our prayers today.”

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