Brett McGurk
Brett McGurkGilad Kavalerchik

White House adviser Brett McGurk said on Saturday that the hostages taken by Hamas must be free before a “significant pause” can happen in the war in Gaza, The Hill reported.

“It’s also reasonable to pause the fighting, release the hostages, the women, the children, the toddlers, the babies, all of them and the onus here is on Hamas this is the path,” McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a speech at a conference of the International Institute for Strategic Studies taking place in Bahrain. “Simply calling for ceasefire is not a path to peace.”

McGurk said releasing the hostages would create a “massive surge” in humanitarian relief and added that Hamas had pushed for a bargain earlier in the war where they would release hostages in exchange for fuel and humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip.

“Imagine if … someone took your family members and then told you to get them back, you had to give them X, Y and Z whatever it might be and you are being advice just give them X, Y and Z anyway without any promise that your family members would be released that would be problematic and that’s where we’ve been,” McGurk said, as quoted by The Hill.

“The surge in humanitarian relief, the surge in fuel, the pause in fighting will come with hostages are released,” he added.

President Joe Biden has pushed for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting. Last week, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed that Israel has agreed to daily, four-hour humanitarian pauses in the fighting in northern Gaza.

The Prime Minister's Office later issued a clarification, saying, "The fighting continues and there will be no ceasefire without the release of our hostages. Israel is allowing safe transit corridors from the north of the Gaza Strip to the south, as 50,000 Gazans did just yesterday. We once again call on the civilian population in Gaza to evacuate to the south.”