US says no surge in aid to Gaza and no pause in war until Israeli hostages are released

US White House Co-ordinator Brett McGurk said if Hamas wants to protect civilians then hostages should be freed immediately

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The release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas is the pathway to “pause” the war in Gaza, a top US official said on Saturday.

US White House Co-ordinator Brett McGurk, speaking during the annual Manama Dialogue security summit in Bahrain, called for the need to plan for the time after “Hamas is degraded” and said if the group wants to protect civilians then hostages should be freed immediately.

“The release of hostages is the pathway to a pause in the fighting. To pause the fighting, release the hostages, the women, the children, the toddlers, the babies,” he said.

“The onus here is on Hamas.

“I want to stress that once the hostages are released you will see a significant change.”

Mr McGurk said there was not enough aid coming into the Gaza Strip to meet the needs of civilians.

"We are working to get humanitarian aid into Gaza but the surge in humanitarian relief, the surge in fuel, the pause and fighting will come when hostages are released," Mr McGurk said.

He said the only way out of this conflict is “one that results in an Israel that is fully secure and the establishment of a Palestinian state”.

Israel has vowed to “crush” Hamas in response to the group's October 7 attack, when it broke through Gaza's militarised border to kill about 1,200 people, most of them civilians. Militants took about 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

Israel's army air and ground campaign has killed more than 11,400 people, including 5,000 children, according to Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.

“Israel will not go back to 6 October, neither will the Palestinians,” he said.

His statement came as Jordan's Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, said nothing will move without a US role in this crisis.

Updated: November 18, 2023, 4:37 PM