Prime Minister Anthony Albanese reiterates call for Israel-Hamas ceasefire as Joe Biden-brokered deal hangs in balance

Anthony Albanese has reiterated his support for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas as a proposed cease-fire deal brokered by the Biden administration hangs in the balance following Saturday’s rescue of four Israeli hostages that resulted in scores of Palestinian casualties.

The remarks represent the prime minister’s first comments on the Israeli military operation that freed four hostages kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 following a dramatic raid in the center of Gaza’s Nuseirat district on Saturday morning.

However, the Israeli operation immediately cast a cloud over attempts by US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to successfully broker a ceasefire agreement between the Jewish state and Hamas that would end Israeli operations inside the embattled enclave and free the remaining hostages.

Speaking on Monday morning ahead of talks in Jordan on the urgent humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which will be attended by Mr Blinken and Labor Minister Anne Aly, Mr Albanese repeated his government’s calls for a ceasefire.

“I repeat our call to protect civilians. Too many lives were lost, both Israeli and Palestinian,” said Mr. Albanese told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

“I reiterate my call on Hamas to unconditionally release all hostages and reiterate our support for President Biden’s peace proposal.

“We want a ceasefire. We want to deal with these issues in the short term, but we also want a long-term solution, and that requires a two-state solution.”

Mr Albanese also expressed his support for the reunification of the four hostages who had been held captive for eight months.

“Capturing these hostages and holding them captive near a city where there are so many Palestinian civilians is an atrocity,” he said.

“And that’s one of the things that calls Hamas a terrorist organization. It’s the actions of a terrorist organization.”

All four individuals were kidnapped by the Palestinian militant group Hamas at an Israeli music festival on October 7, killing around 1,200 people, most of them civilians.

Their rescue marks the IDF’s most successful attempt to free the roughly 240 abductees to date — only three other hostages were freed in previous Israeli military operations, while half of the original cohort was released after a temporary ceasefire in November.

116 hostages remained in captivity, dead and alive.

In a statement, Hamas described Saturday’s IDF operation as “brutal and barbaric” and claimed it had left 210 Palestinians dead and a further 400 wounded.

Pressure is mounting on Israel to limit its operations in the embattled enclave and accept a cease-fire deal to halt an Israeli ground invasion that has now entered eight months and has claimed more than 37,000 lives, according to Palestinian figures. authorities that do not distinguish between warriors. and civilian deaths.

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