Washington, Nov 26 (IANS): US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has hoped that Hamas will release at least one American hostage among hostages taken by the militants on October 7 in those freed on the third day of the truce.
"At least one American will be released today. I cannot confirm who it will be, or that it will absolutely happen because until we see that American out of Gaza, in safety and ultimately in the hands of their loved ones, we won’t have full confirmation," Sullivan told CBS news on Sunday’s "Face the Nation".
Republicans questioned President Joe Biden if the deal was brokered by the US, then why was no American released so far?
No American hostage was released in the first lot by the Hamas when the four day truce came into effect between Israel and Hamas, creating furore in the US with GOP members attacking Biden on the terms of the viability of the agreement between the warring sides.
Though 50 hostages are expected to be released during the four-day truce between Israel and Hamas, no Americans hostage has been freed yet by Hamas. Some 24 hostages were released on Friday in the first wave by Hamas that included an Israeli-Irish girl, until now believed to be dead.
Hamas took some 240 people from Israeli territory as hostages in its lightning strike on Israel on October 7 that led to the death of over 1,200 Israelis. Gaza has been under heavy bombardment by Israel since then, with the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reporting that over 14,000 Palestinians have been killed in the retaliatory strike.
Sullivan cautioned that while the US expects an American to be released Sunday, they must verify the release first. "And we do have reason to believe that there will be an American release today but let’s wait and see what actually happens. Because of course, we are dealing with a terrorist group here and we can’t immediately trust but have to verify," he said.
It’s entirely up to Hamas to extend the four-day truce and hostage exchange deal, the NSA said.
"I have every confidence that ultimately, all of the Americans and all of the individuals being held hostage will come home, we are determined not to rest until that happens," he said. "But whether or not this particular deal gets extended, that’s really up to Hamas, because Israel has been very clear as part of the deal, it is prepared to continue the pause in fighting for every day that Hamas produces an additional 10 hostages."
The Biden administration has "reason to believe" an American will be released, Sullivan also told CNN on Sunday.
"Today should be a good day, a joyful day, but until we actually see it happen, we are going to remain really at the edge of our seat," he said.
Two American women and one child, 4-year-old Abigail Edan, are currently unaccounted for and are expected to be part of the group of 50 women and children hostages released as part of a four-day truce, now in its third day.
No Americans were released as part of the deal on Friday or Saturday. Ten Americans are unaccounted for in total. The US has “growing optimism” that Edan will be returned, though Sullivan declined to provide a timeline. “We are now hopeful that Abigail will be released and reunited with her family. She turned four just two days ago. She has been through hell. She had her parents killed right in front of her and has been held hostage for the last several weeks,” Sullivan said.