- By Jessica Murphy
- BBC news
The White House says a three-year-old American whose parents were killed by Hamas is among the hostages in Gaza.
President Joe Biden raised the issue of hostages, including the toddler, with a call with Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar on Sunday.
It comes as the White House says “urgent” efforts to free hostages taken after the October 7 Hamas attack continue.
The US says there are 10 Americans still unaccounted for since the attack.
According to a reading of the call between Mr. Biden and Sheikh Tamim released by the White House, the president unequivocally condemned Hamas’s holding of hostages, including many young children, one of whom is a three-year-old American child.
Both leaders said that “all hostages must be released without further delay”.
Qatar was instrumental in efforts to free two American hostages taken in Hamas’ deadly raid on Israel last month, and has been central to the ongoing effort.
Mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Raanan of Chicago were released in late October, two of four hostages who have been freed. A fifth was rescued by Israeli forces.
The Israel Defense Forces have previously said that the hostages include 20 children and between 10 and 20 people over the age of 60.
On Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told the CBS political program Face the Nation that active negotiations to release the hostages were “going on between Israel and Qatar, which communicates with Hamas, and the United States is involved in those discussions, very involved. in the discussions”.
“We are actively working to ensure the safe return of any American held hostage and any other person held hostage by Hamas,” he said.
President Biden’s top Middle East adviser Brett McGurk is traveling to Israel and other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, this week to work on the release of American hostages.
Sullivan told ABC News that nine US citizens and one permanent resident are currently missing.
He is expected to meet the family members of the American hostages this week.
CBS reported Sunday that two U.S. officials told the network that one of the main problems in the current negotiations is the fact that Hamas has yet to present a list of names of those it has or would be able to free. Other groups in the region, including Islamic Jihad, also have prisoners.
Israel began attacking Gaza after the Hamas attacks a month ago, in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 240 taken hostage.
The Hamas-run health ministry says more than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since – more than 4,500 of whom were children.
Sir. Biden and Sheikh Tamim also discussed the need to protect civilians and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the territory.