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Biden says Gaza ceasefire possible 'tomorrow' if Hamas frees hostages

MEDINA, United States — US President Joe Biden said Saturday that a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war was possible as soon as "tomorrow" if the militant group released its hostages.

"There would be a ceasefire tomorrow if Hamas would release the hostages," Biden said at a fundraiser outside Seattle, at the home of a former Microsoft executive, after avoiding the topic at three similar events on Friday.

"Israel said it's up to Hamas, if they wanted to do it, we could end it tomorrow. And the ceasefire would begin tomorrow," Biden told the crowd of about 100 people.

The president raised the issue after warning Israel on Wednesday that he would stop supplying artillery shells and other weapons if its forces attack the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza, as he deplored the fact that civilians had been killed by the dropping of US bombs.

"If they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used... to deal with the cities," Biden said in a televised interview with CNN.

"We're not gonna supply the weapons and the artillery shells that have been used."

Hamas and Israel have so far failed to reach a ceasefire deal despite repeated rounds of indirect negotiations.

Some 250 people were abducted to the Gaza Strip on October 7 when Hamas militants attacked southern Israel.

Israeli officials say 128 of them are still held captive in the Palestinian territory, including at least 36 who are dead.

The Hamas attack resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

In Israel's retaliatory military campaign in Gaza, at least 34,971 people have been killed so far, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.