President Joe Biden said Friday that he doesn't trust Hamas and is unsure when American citizens taken hostage last month during attacks on Israel will be freed.
Israel and Hamas began a four-day truce on Friday, in which Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages in exchange for 50 Palestinian prisoners. Ten Thai hostages and one Filipino were released in a separate deal negotiated with Iran.
During a 12-minute press conference in Nantucket, Massachusetts, Friday afternoon, Biden was asked if he was aware of when any of the American citizens taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7 would be released, if alive.
“We don’t know when that will occur, but we’re going to be expecting it to occur,” Biden responded. “We don’t know what the list of all the hostages are and when they will be released, but we know the numbers that are going to be released.”
After expressing optimism that the American hostages would be released soon, Biden was asked if he knew the conditions of the Americans taken by Hamas, including if they were even alive.
“We don’t know all their conditions,” Biden replied regarding the 10 Americans unaccounted for at present.
Biden also declared that “Hamas doesn’t give a damn about” Palestinian civilians put in harm’s way by “this war that Hamas has unleashed” and called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s goal of eliminating Hamas “a legitimate objective.”
When asked if he trusted Hamas to uphold their end of the truce agreement, Biden said, “I don’t trust Hamas to do anything right; I only trust Hamas to respond to pressure.”
Biden also reiterated calls for a two-state solution to end the decades-old conflict.
“Two states for two peoples, and it’s more important now than ever,” said the president. “Hamas unleashed this terrorist attack because they fear nothing more than Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side in peace.”
“To continue down the path of terror and violence and killing and war is to give Hamas what they seek. We can’t do that. So, today, let’s continue to be thankful for all the families who are now and those who will soon be brought together again.”
Hamas and Israel began a four-day truce on Friday, which included Hamas releasing the first of multiple groups of hostages, totaling 50 of 236 who were kidnapped and awaiting their release, while Israel released the first of multiple groups of Palestinian prisoners, totaling 150.
The hostages were part of some 240 people abducted by Hamas when they launched orchestrated attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, in which approximately 1,200 people were killed, including 31 Americans, and thousands of others were wounded.
Israel launched retaliatory attacks in the Gaza Strip, which, according to claims made by the Hamas-led Gaza Health Ministry, has resulted in the deaths of more than 10,000 civilians.
The Israeli hostages released range from ages 2 to 85.
The first group of Israeli hostages released Friday include: Margalit Moses, 78; Adina Moshe, 72; Yaffa Adar, 85; Hannah Perry, 79; Danielle Aloni, 44, and her daughter, Amelia Aloni, 6; Keren Mundar, 54, and her son, Ohad Mundar, 9, and his grandmother, Ruthie Mundar, 78; Doron Katz Asher, 34, and her two daughters, Raz, 4, and Aviv, 2; and Hannah Katzir, 77, who Palestine Islamic Jihad claimed had died in an Israeli airstrike.