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Biden’s national security adviser calls for ceasefire deal after Israeli hostage rescue mission


By Betsy Klein, CNN

(CNN) — National security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday said an “enduring ceasefire” deal between Israel and Hamas is “the only credible path forward” after an Israeli hostage rescue mission that Gazan officials say killed at least 274 people.

“The best way to get all of the hostages home and to protect Palestinian civilians is to end this war. And the best way to end this war is for Hamas to say ‘yes’ to the deal President Biden announced and that Israel has accepted, which lays out a roadmap to an enduring ceasefire and the return of all hostages,” Sullivan told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

“That’s what we are driving for. And that’s what we’re asking the world to call upon Hamas to accept,” Sullivan added.

His comments come after the Israeli military on Saturday rescued four hostages in a special operation in the Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza, that Gazan authorities said killed 274 people and injured nearly 700 others.

CNN has no way of verifying casualty numbers reported by Palestinian officials in Gaza. Medical records in the war-torn enclave do not differentiate between civilians and militants killed. The IDF has disputed those numbers, saying it estimated the number of casualties from the operation was “under 100.”

“Innocent people were tragically killed in this operation. The exact number, we don’t know, but innocent people were killed and that is heartbreaking. That is tragic,” Sullivan said Sunday.

“The president himself has said in recent days that the Palestinian people are going through sheer hell in this conflict because Hamas is operating in a way that puts them in the crossfire, that holds hostages right in the heart of crowded civilian areas,” he added.

Pressed by Bash on whether the US was comfortable with how the mission was carried out, Sullivan called for a diplomatic solution “where there’s no need for military operations to get every last hostage out.”

“Unfortunately, we are going to continue to see ongoing conflict and military operations in which Israel makes efforts to recover its citizens and, frankly, to recover American citizens. What we would much prefer to see is a ceasefire where the hostages come out peacefully,” he said.

The Biden administration has been pushing allies in the Middle East to make specific threats to Hamas as part of an urgent campaign to push the group toward accepting the latest Israeli ceasefire and hostage proposal that would pause the fighting in Gaza.

US officials have publicly called on the group to accept previous ceasefire proposals on the table as Israel and Hamas have engaged in months of back-and-forth negotiations, but there has never been an all-out pressure campaign marked by specific asks to individual countries as part of the Biden administration’s push.

While the US has not confirmed Hamas’ claims that other Israeli hostages held inside Gaza were killed during the mission, Sullivan said broadly that it is “always a risk,” going on to advocate for the ceasefire deal Biden has been lobbying for in recent days.

This story has been updated with additional information Sunday.

CNN’s Sam Simpson contributed to this report.

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