State Department spokesman Mathew Miller stated that one of the reasons the temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas fell apart last week is that Hamas does not want to release the women it still holds hostage out of fear that they will reveal how badly they have been treated.
"The fact that they continue to hold women hostages, the fact that they continue to hold children hostages, the fact that it seems one of the reasons they don't want to turn women over that they've been holding hostage and the reason this pause fell apart, is they don't want those women to be able to talk about what happened to them during their time in custody," he said.
Miller stated that the US has "no reason" to doubt the reports of mass rape and sexual violence committed by Hamas terrorists on October 7. "There is very little that I would put beyond Hamas when it comes to its treatment of civilians, particularly its treatment of women."
When asked if Israel's retaliation for the massacre was also an atrocity, Miller responded that his use of the word atrocity was in response to the "intentional murdering of civilians that we saw Hamas commit."
"I don't think there is anyone questioning that Hamas intentionally killed civilians. That is, by definition, an atrocity," he said, adding that he has "not seen" any evidence that Israel is intentionally killing civilians and that a large part of the death toll in Gaza is due to the fact that "Hamas has embedded itself inside civilian homes, inside mosques and schools and churches. It is Hamas that is putting these civilians in harm's way."
He said that he is "surprised I don't hear more people saying: Why doesn't Hamas lay down its arms? Why doesn't Hamas move out of schools? Why doesn't Hamas take additional steps to protect civilians?"
Miller said that the US has seen an improvement in Israel's ability to avoid causing harm to civilians in the latest stage of the war. “We’ve seen a much more targeted request for evacuations,” he said. “So that is an improvement on what’s happened before.”
He further stated that the US is pressing Israel to allow greater amounts of fuel into Gaza than entered the territory even during the ceasefire last week.