coordinated call

U.S. joins 17 countries with citizens held in Gaza in calling for Hamas to immediately release hostages

The statement marks the first time the nations have joined together to publicly pressure the terror group since the Oct. 7 attacks

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Joe Biden delivers remarks after signing legislation giving $95 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan in the State Dining Room at the White House on April 24, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

Eighteen countries with citizens being held hostage in Gaza released a joint statement on Thursday morning calling on Hamas to unilaterally release all the hostages, the first time the countries have joined together to pressure the terrorist group since the Oct. 7 attacks in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken captive. 

“We call for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas in Gaza for over 200 days. They include our own citizens. The fate of the hostages and the civilian population in Gaza, who are protected under international law, is of international concern,” said the statement. Its signatories included the leaders of the U.S., Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom — all of whom have citizens who were taken hostage by Hamas.

“We have now discussed with all these capitals the elements of the deal on the table, and there is a deal on the table that would bring a cease-fire immediately to Gaza simply with the release of women, wounded, elderly and sick hostages. That is ready to go,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters Thursday. “We have worked it out in meticulous detail and Hamas has rejected that.”

The statement from the 18 nations specified that the deal on the table could bring an end to the war. “We emphasize that the deal on the table to release the hostages would bring an immediate and prolonged ceasefire in Gaza, that would facilitate a surge of additional necessary humanitarian assistance to be delivered throughout Gaza, and lead to the credible end of hostilities,” the statement read. 

The Biden administration official placed the blame for the war, the fate of the hostages and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza solely on Hamas. More specifically, the official blamed Oct. 7 mastermind Yahya Sinwar, who is believed to have spent most of the last six months in Hamas’ hundreds of miles of underground tunnels in Gaza, and called the situation “totally outrageous.”

“As awful as this crisis is in so many different dimensions, there’s a core fundamental truth to it,” said the official. “Hamas is holding hostages, and releasing videos of the hostages, and refusing to let the hostages go back to their families. And if they would do that, this crisis will wind down. It’s just a very clear path.” 

President Joe Biden met at the White House on Wednesday with Abigail Idan, the 4-year-old dual U.S. and Israeli citizen who was taken from her home near Gaza on Oct. 7 and released in the November hostage deal, and her family. Her parents were both killed. 

“The president spent, I think it was over an hour with the family, and just let Abigail play as a 4-year-old girl does,” the official said. “She played in the Oval Office, she crawled through the door in the Resolute Desk as the famous picture of John F. Kennedy’s little boy.” 

On Monday, the White House received a video that yesterday was made public of Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, the first proof of life of the 24-year-old since he was taken hostage. 

“We are in touch with the families and the Qataris and Egyptians and others about getting Hersh out, and getting all the hostages out,” the administration official said. “This is a daily, hourly focus of ours and that is no exaggeration.”

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