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Report: US wants delay in Israeli ground attack to advance hostage talks

Updated October 24, 2023 - 9:45 am

The Biden administration is urging Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza to allow further hostage negotiations and to get more humanitarian to Palestinians, several U.S. officials told The New York Times.

The release of two American hostages on Friday has created new urgency to compel Israel to allow time to negotiate the release of other hostages, the officials told the Times. The number of hostages believed to have been taken by Hamas after its Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel has increased to 222, according to the Israeli Defense Forces, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Hostage negotiations are still being led by Qatar, which has close ties to Hamas leadership, the Times reported.

Additionally, the American officials also told Israel they need more time to prepare for attacks on U.S. interests in the region from Iranian proxies, the Times reported. U.S. officials believe the war will intensify once Israel launches its ground offensive in Gaza.

The Biden administration still supports Israel’s ground invasion as well as Israel’s goal of eradicating Hamas, the terrorist group that killed more than 1,400 Israelis, most civilians, on Oct. 7, the Times reported.

U.S. officials said Israel is being advised to hold off on its ground war by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin because the Pentagon is consulting on military actions, the Times reported.

After two small convoys of humanitarian aid were allowed into Gaza from Egypt, President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have agreed that there “will now be continued flow of this critical assistance.” Israel has still not allowed any fuel to enter Gaza, where there has been a power blackout for nearly two weeks, and Israel and the U.S. have been adamant that aid cannot benefit Hamas terrorists.

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes have ramped up airstrikes across Gaza and elsewhere ahead of the expected ground offensive in the besieged Hamas-ruled territory. Israel has struck targets in the occupied West Bank, Syria and Lebanon and traded fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group. The military had hit more than 300 targets in the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours, the Journal reported.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Israeli forces had wiped out eight terrorist cells in Lebanon over the past 24 hours and more than 20 since the start of the war, without elaborating.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which has been known to inflate casualty counts, claimed Monday that 436 people, including 182 children, had been killed in the past hours by Israeli airstrikes. The ministry said the Gaza death toll has climbed past 5,000, including more than 2,000 children and 1,000 women.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted Hamas’ history of operating among the civilian population, with its tunnel network buried under hospitals and schools to store rockets and other munitions. “What does anyone expect Israel to do?” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “This is on Hamas.”

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