White House: No indication Hamas is using US hostages for influence

Any Israeli military operations in southern part of Gaza must take 'all internally displaced people' into account, John Kirby says

People hold posters of their relatives taken hostage by Hamas, during an event at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

While no Americans were among the hostages released from Gaza on Tuesday, there is “no indication” that Hamas is using US citizens for influence, the White House said.

Hamas released the latest batch of hostages on Tuesday and Israel reciprocated by releasing a number of Palestinian detainees as part of a temporary truce agreed to on Friday.

None of the presumed nine remaining American hostages were released.

“There's no indication at all that Hamas is trying to use leverage, or something, to keep Americans from getting out,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said aboard Air Force One on Tuesday evening.

“We've got to remember that the first test case of this entire programme was two Americans, a mother and a daughter, and then of course we got Avigail [Idan, 4] out over the weekend.

“So there's no indication that Hamas is trying to play some sort of game here in terms of the Americans.”

He was referring to Judith Tai Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie, 17, who were released in late October.

Avigail's parents were killed in the October 7 Hamas attacks.

Mr Kirby said the US does not known precisely where the American hostages are being held or whether Hamas has ready access to all of them, as it is believed other militant groups also took hostages.

“Tomorrow's another day and we certainly hope that we can see some more Americans come out,” he said.

As the fragile truce holds, Mr Kirby spoke of US deliveries of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“Seven teams landed in Egypt today with humanitarian assistance, food, water, medicine supplies, some 54,000 pounds [24,500kg] on the first aircraft and we expect two more aircraft to come in coming days,” he said.

“Also on the ground, another 200 trucks got into Rafa and another 200 are in the queue, so now there's 400 trucks in the queue to get into Rafa … in the coming hours and coming days.”

While aid trickles in, Mr Kirby repeated that US President Joe Biden's administration does not support the displacement of Palestinians outside of Gaza.

He said any Israeli military operations in the southern part of Gaza must take “all the internally displaced people” into account.

“It's all that more of an added burden on Israel to make sure that as they start to plan for operations in the south, whatever that looks like, that they have properly accounted for the extra innocent life that is now in south Gaza in their response.”

The latest from the Israel-Gaza war – in pictures

Updated: November 29, 2023, 6:08 AM