US ‘very pleased’ with hostages’ release in Gaza: Blinken

Gaza/Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday he was “very pleased” with the release of hostages in Gaza and that the United States was ready to continue the process for as long as possible.

“Like you, Jens [Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general], I am very pleased to see hostages returning home, coming back to be with their loved ones, and we are determined to continue that for as long as possible to bring as many people home as we possibly can,” Blinken told reporters during brief remarks with Stoltenberg ahead of a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

Last week, Qatar mediated a deal between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas on a four-day truce and an exchange of some of the prisoners and hostages, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. The first group of Israeli and foreign hostages were released from the enclave this past Friday. On Monday, Qatar announced that an agreement had been reached between Israel and Hamas on a two-day extension of the truce.

On October 7, Palestinian movement Hamas launched a surprise large-scale rocket attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip and breached the border, killing and abducting people. Israel launched retaliatory strikes and ordered a complete blockade of Gaza, cutting off supplies of water, food, and fuel. On October 27, Israel launched a large-scale ground incursion into the Gaza Strip. The conflict has so far resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people in Israel and over 16,000 in the Gaza Strip.


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