On Sunday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby attributed the breakdown of the temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas to Hamas, accusing the group of refusing to include additional women and children on the list of hostages for release.
Kirby stated on “Fox News Sunday” that the United States believes eight or nine Americans are still being held by Hamas in Gaza, with one woman’s condition and whereabouts unknown.
Kirby emphasized the ongoing efforts to reinstate the cease-fire, highlighting the urgency of the situation. He blamed Hamas for the cessation of the pause, asserting that the group declined to release additional hostages. The previous weeklong cease-fire, which expired on Friday, had facilitated the release of dozens of Israeli and foreign hostages in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. However, Israel recalled its negotiators, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committed the Israel Defense Force to removing Hamas from power in Gaza.
In response to questions about military aid to Israel, Kirby defended the U.S. support, stating that it helps Israel address the genocidal threat posed by Hamas. He acknowledged the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and mentioned U.S. efforts to communicate with Israeli forces to mitigate civilian casualties.
Kirby reiterated the need for governance in Gaza that reflects the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
The situation escalated further on Sunday as Israel ordered evacuations in and around Gaza’s second-largest city, Khan Younis, with heavy bombardment following. The military offensive shifted to the southern half of the territory, where Israeli officials claim Hamas leaders are hiding.
Additionally, fears of a wider conflict intensified as a U.S. warship and multiple commercial ships came under attack in the Red Sea, according to the Pentagon.