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Israel-Palestine war: US 'urges delay' in Gaza ground invasion over hostage fears

Washington is reportedly also concerned that Iran-backed groups could target its interests in the region
Israel's western allies reportedly want their hostages freed before Israel invades (AFP)

US officials are reportedly urging Israel to delay its planned ground invasion of Gaza to allow more time to negotiate the release of American hostages.

A New York Times report on Sunday said American diplomates wanted more time to allow aid into the besieged Palestinian enclave.

According to the paper, Biden administration officials also want more time to prepare for potential attacks on US interests in the region by the Iran-backed groups that are expected to retaliate in the event of a ground invasion. 

US President Joe Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday afternoon to discuss the latest developments in Gaza.

White House officials said that Biden had also spoken to the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy. 

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But despite their reservations and calls for aid deliveries into Gaza, US officials still support the idea of a ground invasion and Israeli plans to “eradicate” Hamas from Gaza. 

Two US officials said the advice to the Israelis to hold off on the land war was being conveyed through US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin III.

An Israeli embassy official in Washington denied claims that the US was asking for a delay in the ground invasion and said: “We have a close dialogue and consultations with the US administration. The US is not pressing Israel in regards to the ground operation.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also refused to say whether Washington was calling for a delay in the ground invasion on Sunday, stating that Washington was advising on the ground invasion instead. 

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The reported caution regarding a ground invasion comes as Hamas said Israel was not “serious” about releasing hostages.

The group says Israel refused to accept the return of two elderly hostages from Gaza. 

Israeli officials have dismissed the Hamas claim, calling it “propaganda”. 

Hamas has also stated that other armed groups in Gaza are holding hostages, making it more difficult to negotiate the release of all of them at once. 

Several Western countries with nationals who are being held hostage are also said to be putting pressure on Israel to delay any potential ground offensive until they get their nationals out of Gaza.

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