Biden says Gaza hostages release 'only a start'
US President Joe Biden said Friday's release of a first group of hostages taken by Hamas was just a "start" and that there were "real" chances to extend a temporary truce in Gaza.
Speaking to reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he was spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his family, Biden also said it was time to "renew" work on creating a two-state solution for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
A total of 24 hostages - 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and a Filipino - were turned over Friday to the ICRC in Gaza by Hamas, while Israel freed 39 women and minors held in its prisons, the Qatari foreign ministry said.
In addition, a four-day truce to facilitate the hostage and prisoner releases was holding.
Biden, who previously refused calls for a permanent ceasefire in Israel's indiscriminate war on the Gaza Strip, said "I think the chances are real" for extending the truce.
He welcomed the way the start of the process had gone, saying, "this morning I've been engaged with my team as we began the first couple days of implementing this deal. It's only a start, but so far it's gone well."
And he urged a broader effort to emerge from the crisis with a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, citing the "need to renew our resolve to pursue this two state solution."
Following Hamas's surprise October 7 attack, which killed around 1,200 Israelis, Israel launched a ferocious indiscriminate war on the Gaza Strip, targeting residential buildings, schools, and hospitals.
Nearly 15,000 people, 6,150 of them children, have been killed.