Wednesday, June 19, 2024

World leaders react to dramatic hostage release with relief, calls for ceasefire

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French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden for a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France June 8, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier)

Following the announcement of the daring hostage rescue mission which brought four Israeli hostages back home to Israel on Saturday afternoon, several world leaders hailed the heroic operation

French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the release of the hostages in a joint press briefing with U.S. President Joe Biden, who is on a state visit to France, to hail the history of friendship between the two countries. 

“In Gaza, we want to obtain the immediate liberation of hostages, and we can only welcome the liberation of four hostages by the Israeli army,” Macron stated. 

The French president also called for “an immediate ceasefire.” 

“We want to achieve an immediate ceasefire and open up the prospect of a political solution, which is the only one that can bring about a fair and lasting peace and meet the security concerns of both people,” Macron continued. 

Biden also hailed the release of the captives while saying that the U.S. is working toward a ceasefire. 

“I want to echo President Macron’s comments welcoming the safe rescue of four hostages that were returned to their families in Israel,” Biden said. “We won’t stop working until all the hostages come home and a ceasefire is reached.” 

Biden presented an Israeli-American ceasefire proposal at the end of May and announced, “It’s time for this war to end and for ‘the day after’ to begin.” 

While Biden’s plan is based on an Israeli proposal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the announcement by saying, “Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed.” 

“The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter.” 

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan praised the release of the hostages in a statement, commending the “daring” rescue mission.

“The United States is supporting all efforts to secure the release of hostages still held by Hamas, including American citizens,” Sullivan said. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the return of the hostages an “important sign of hope.” 

“An important sign of hope – in particular for the numerous Israeli families who continue to fear for those close to them. Four hostages are now free,” Scholz wrote on 𝕏. 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it was “a huge relief” to see the hostages return home. 

“It is a huge relief to see hostages returned after their unimaginable ordeal and heartwarming to see the pictures of them reunited with their families,” Sunak wrote on 𝕏. “We will continue to strive towards an end to the fighting as well as safety and security for all.” 

UK Foreign Secretary and former prime minister, David Cameron, also posted a statement to 𝕏. 

“News of the rescue of four hostages will be a huge relief to their families. My thoughts also with families of those still captive, and all the innocent lives affected by the conflict. We must secure the release of all hostages and end the fighting through a ceasefire deal.”

Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also wrote a message on 𝕏, calling the release “a hopeful sign” and saying that a ceasefire deal is “desperately needed.” 

“A hopeful sign that four Israeli hostages were freed today. We continue to call on Hamas to immediately release all hostages,” Rutte wrote. “A deal remains desperately needed so that all hostages are released and humanitarian aid reaches the people of Gaza.” 

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer lauded the rescue and called for the release of the remaining hostages. 

“We are very much relieved that four hostages were rescued by the Israeli security forces and share their families‘ joy,” Nehammer wrote on 𝕏. “However, far too many are still being brutally held hostage by Hamas. All of them need to be released immediately. And, all efforts will be continued to also bring our Austrian/Israeli hostage, Tal Shoham back to his family.” 

The Israeli government believes that 116 hostages remain in captivity in Gaza, although not all of them are still alive. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of at least 41 hostages whose bodies are still being held by terror groups in Gaza. 

In total, seven hostages have been rescued alive since the beginning of the war in Gaza, while the bodies of 19 hostages have been brought back to Israel, including three hostages mistakenly killed by IDF soldiers. 

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