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US assists Israeli forces in rescuing 4 hostages in Gaza

The United States assisted in a successful raid by Israeli security forces, rescuing over 100 people. Four hostages held in Gaza were released Two US officials confirmed this to CBS News on Saturday. One US official said the US military did not take part in the operation.

In a statement released by the White House, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan congratulated Israeli security forces for the successful operation and implicitly mentioned US support for all efforts to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, including “through ongoing negotiations or other means”.

CBS News learned on Saturday that the US role was primarily intelligence support. Two US officials confirmed this, but declined to share sensitive details about the operation. One Israeli special operator lost his life in the rescue operation, and about 100 Palestinians were killed.

The Biden administration has made a major effort to provide assistance to Israel on hostage issues, including diplomatic, intelligence and sometimes military assistance since October 7. The US has also previously acknowledged providing overhead surveillance support to help locate the hostages.

Video circulated online on Saturday showed an IDF helicopter taking off from the beach, with the US pier in the background. Two US officials told CBS News that the US pier was not used in the IDF operation. It is stationed offshore to help deliver humanitarian aid. One US official said the helicopter landed on the beach south of the facility, but not in the area cordoned off by the pier.

“The ferry facility was not used in the operation to rescue the hostages in Gaza today. An area south of the facility was used to safely return the hostages to Israel,” a U.S. official said. “Any claims to the contrary are false. The floating ferry off the coast of Gaza was built for one purpose only, to deliver more urgently needed lifesaving assistance to Gaza.”

Diplomatic efforts are still ongoing to secure the release of the remaining hostages, including five missing American citizens.

As of Saturday, Hamas commander Yahya Sinwar has yet to officially respond to the latest proposal, which includes the release of the most vulnerable hostages as well as the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli detention centers and increased humanitarian relief during the six-week escalation of violence. The Biden administration hopes this cessation can be extended into a longer-term ceasefire and eventually an end to the war.

Three officials with knowledge of the talks told CBS News that a sticking point in the talks so far has been a reference to a “permanent ceasefire,” which is politically sensitive in Israel and is now being rebranded as “permanent peace.” A permanent end to hostilities would be considered part of the second phase of a potential deal, and details would still need to be agreed upon depending on the success of the first phase.

Five unidentified American citizens and the remains of three other American citizens are believed to be among those held hostage in Gaza.

David Martin, Clare Day, Olivia Gazis and Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.


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