US national security advisor meets with envoys from 17 nations on Hamas hostage crisis

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met this week with ambassadors and chiefs of mission from 17 countries whose citizens have been taken hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

"The group discussed their collective call for Hamas to immediately release the hostages and ways to bring an end to the crisis," the White House said in a statement Thursday.

The countries represented at the meeting were Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

"Sullivan also relayed that the President (Joe Biden) continues to engage with (Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, the Amir of Qatar, and (Egyptian) President (Abel Fattah al) Sisi to reach a ceasefire and hostage deal," the statement added.

Qatar, Egypt and the US are trying to reach a hostage swap deal and cease-fire in Gaza as the first pause in late November last year lasted only a week, which resulted in limited aid entering the Gaza Strip, as well as exchanges of Israeli hostages for Palestinians detained in Israeli jails, most of them women and children.

Israel currently holds at least 9,100 Palestinians in its prisons, while there are an estimated 134 Israeli hostages in Gaza. Hamas has announced the deaths of 70 of them in random Israeli airstrikes.

Israel has continued its brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in the enclave.

More than 35,200 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and over 79,200 others injured since last October following an attack by the Palestinian group Hamas.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of “genocide” at the International Court of Justice, which has ordered Tel Aviv to ensure that its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt