An American may be among the hostages to be released by Hamas on Sunday as part of the hostage exchange and temporary ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas this weekend, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.
“The initial hostage deal involves the release of women and children, and there are three Americans in that category: two women and one young child,” Sullivan told Meet the Press host Kristen Welker on Sunday. “And we have reason to believe that one of those Americans will be released today.”
The national security adviser added, “But until we see her out — safely from Gaza, in the hands of the authorities and ultimately in the hands of her family, then we won’t be certain. But we have reason to believe that there will be one release today.”
Israeli officials also told Axios that the Americans are on the list of hostages to be released Sunday. Sullivan said that there is “hope” that four-year-old Abigail Edan “will be released but we can’t know for sure until it happens.” Edan was captured from her kibbutz after Hamas militants killed her parents.
“I don’t know how [she’ll be] when she comes back,” the girl’s grandfather, Carmel Edan, said according to The Times of Israel. “When she comes back, she won’t know she’s an orphan.”
Hamas agreed to free Israeli hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinians, including women and minors, held in Israeli custody. The plan is to release over the course of four days 50 hostages held by the Palestinian militant group in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Hamas fighters said on Sunday that they had freed a hostage who held Russian-Israeli citizenship “in response to the efforts of Russian President Vladimir Putin and in appreciation of the Russian position in support of the Palestinian cause.”
Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners and detainees from an Israeli jail early Sunday after Hamas released a second group of 13 Israeli and foreign hostages, eight children and five women, Saturday night.
Sullivan said there is a possibility to extend the four-day ceasefire that began Friday. “I think it is certainly a possibility, and we would like to see that happen,” he told NBC. Israel made an offer to extend the temporary cessation of hostilities for one day in exchange for every 10 additional hostages Hamas releases beyond the 50 covered in the initial agreement.
“Hamas is going to make the decision about whether they’re prepared to release another 10 hostages,” Sullivan said. “Israel has put its cards on the table. They’re prepared to extend the pause in the fighting.”
He added that the U.S. believes that three Americans “fall into the category of the first deal: that is two women and a child.” But, he cautioned, “We know that those three have been missing, presumed hostages, but we have not gotten proof of life on any of them, and we do not know for certain that all three of them are still alive.”
The national security advisor said that Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are scheduled to speak on Sunday. Biden has said previously that the U.S. providing aid to Israel with conditions was a “worthwhile thought.”
Another 200 hostages captured from Israel are believed to be held by Hamas. Israel is currently holding 2,200 Palestinians in administrative detention, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, an advocacy group.
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