Antony Blinken is ‘hopeful’ more hostages will be freed, but skeptical of Hamas

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday praised the recent Release of an American mother and daughter held hostage by Hamas.but expressed skepticism about the militant group’s recent statement that they were willing to release two more hostages.

In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” host Kristen Welker asked Blinken: “Hamas has issued a statement saying they are prepared to release two more hostages. What can you tell us about that? Do you consider this a credible offer coming from this terrorist organization?

Blinken said the United States is “engaged with different partners in the region, sending clear messages about the need to immediately and unconditionally release all hostages” and that it was “gratifying” to see the release of Judith Raanan and her daughter, Natalie, in on Friday after Hamas took them hostage during the militants’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“We are hopeful that more will be released. But the bottom line is this: They need to be released. Every single one of them. Now. Unconditionally,” he said.

Qatar played a central role in the surprise release Friday of the two Americans held hostage by Hamas. Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, said in statements to Telegram that they had informed Qatar on Friday that they would release two more people, Nurit Yitzhak and Yocheved Lifshitz, for “humanitarian reasons and without compensation,” using “the same procedures.” ” that followed the release of the two American hostages. The Israelis refused to receive them, Obeida said.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office responded and called Hamas’ statements “propaganda.”

Welker asked Blinken on Sunday: “Do you take seriously this word from Hamas that they are potentially prepared to release two more hostages? Is the US government, for example, working with Qatar to make that happen as we speak?

“Acts speak, not words, particularly from Hamas,” he said. “But we have been engaged, as I said, with partners. So one of the first things I did after the horrific October 7 attack and hostage taking (men, women, small children, old people, it’s extraordinary) was to talk to everyone we could who might have influence with Hamas in terms of releasing them.”

“In the case of Judith and Natalie, I again want to thank the Government of Qatar for playing a very important role in getting them out and now returning home to see their loved ones,” he added.

Asked if he could explain why Ranaan and his daughter were released and why now, Blinken said: “I can’t, we don’t know why Hamas decided to release Natalie and Judith first.”

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