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NANTUCKET, United States: 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 to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
A total of 24 hostages — 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and a Filipino — were turned over Friday to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza by Hamas, while Israel freed 39 women and minors held in its prisons, the Qatari foreign ministry said.
Biden, who led US efforts to secure the pause in the brutal fighting between Israel and Hamas militants controlling Gaza, said “I think the chances are real” for extending the truce.
He welcomed the way the start of the process had gone as the four-day truce to facilitate the hostage and prisoner releases held.
“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,” he said.
Asked about the American women and children hostages who could be released as part of the deal, Biden said he did not know when they would be set free but “we expect it to occur.”
He also urged a broader effort to emerge from the crisis toward creating a viable Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel, citing the “need to renew our resolve to pursue this two-state solution.”
Protesters across the United States have called for Biden to push for a permanent cease-fire, with a demonstration on Thursday even interrupting the country’s largest Thanksgiving Day parade in New York.
As the president attended the Nantucket Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Friday, a group of about 10 protesters chanted “Biden, Biden you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” while holding a banner that read “Free Palestine.”
Earlier in the day, as the president walked about, a handful of people shouted “free Palestine” and “cease-fire now.”
Hamas’s October 7 attack sparked an air and ground offensive by Israel, which has vowed to destroy the Palestinian militants.
In Gaza, nearly 15,000 people, 6,150 of them children, have been killed in the war, officials in the Hamas-run territory said.
About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel during the October 7 attack and around 240 taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.


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