US asks Hamas to release women, elderly hostages for longer ceasefire

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 2:41 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Tuesday urged Hamas militants in Gaza to release women, elderly and wounded hostages and accept a temporary ceasefire in the fighting with Israel in order to secure a more lasting one.

“A ceasefire is on the table today, for six weeks to be built on into something more enduring if Hamas would simply release women, wounded and elderly,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters

Israel has accepted the terms of a six-week ceasefire in exchange for the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas since its Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed.

Hamas says it will only accept a deal based on a permanent ceasefire that ends the war and includes an Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza, rather than another temporary truce.

Under the most recent proposal, Israel would release Palestinian prisoners at a 10-to-one ratio to the number of Hamas hostages held.

Hamas took at least 200 hostages on Oct. 7. During a week-long truce in late November, Hamas freed more than 100 Israeli and foreign hostages in exchange for Israel releasing about 240 Palestinian prisoners.

“We’re determined to try to generate a ceasefire where at least six weeks with the hostages coming out and then try to build on that into something more enduring, but I can’t make any predictions about where this will lie,” Sullivan said.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland. Editing by Heather Timmons and David Gregorio)