Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: every American must care about the hostages

Dec 3, 2023 | Hostages, Voices

amNY: Now shifting to the Israel-Hamas conflict, even with many hostages being released in recent days there’s still well over 100 in captivity. I know you’ve talked about getting the hostages home being a big priority for you, is there anything that you can do in your position to expedite their return?

Sen. Gillibrand: Yes, I can keep their stories alive. I’ve gone to the floor three times to tell their stories about who is being held hostage. The children, the babies, the families, the mothers. Talk about their lives, talk about who they are, to make sure that the news media and the national consciousness does not lose sight of these innocent lives that are being held and may not survive if they’re continuously held. So we need those hostages home, there’s still nine Americans being held hostage. This is something every American citizen should care about, regardless of how you see this conflict. And so I am talking about the hostages, often in news media on the Senate floor and lifting up their stories, so they will not be forgotten.

amNY: With nearly 15,000 Palestinians already killed since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, and near daily demonstrations here in the city calling for a ceasefire, at what point would you support a more permanent end to the fighting?

Sen. Gillibrand: I would support an end to the fighting as soon as we can get the hostages home and as soon as we can have resolution. What has to happen is humanitarian pauses are fine for hostage release, and if hostages are being released every day, we can support humanitarian pauses. But I think, frankly, when people use the term ceasefire, they’re thinking more broadly about an end to the conflict, which I also want to see an end to the conflict. But what a ceasefire actually means is that Israel can’t get those hostages back. It can’t fight against Hamas. It can’t stop bombs coming across their border. It can’t stop missiles. It can’t do anything to protect its country, can’t protect Israel, can’t protect Israelis. Hamas has said it would like a ceasefire so that it can invade Israel again and steal more hostages and kill more people. They have said they will do this over and over and over again. So a ceasefire is not good for innocent vulnerable Palestinians. It’s not good for any Israeli citizen. It just means Hamas wins.

amNY: Do you think there’s another way that innocent Palestinians can be protected and get more humanitarian aid into Gaza as well?

Sen. Gillibrand: Well, we’re getting 100 trucks in a day, which is what the aid organizations asked for. But we need the Arab allies to take refugees. Like we really need Egypt to open the Rafah Gate, open the border, let refugees come for whatever time it takes for this conflict to end. We need Jordan, we need Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, all to take refugees until the conflict is over. That’s the safest way to defeat Hamas and protect innocent Palestinians. We also are hoping to vote on a supplemental bill of $10 billion of humanitarian aid.

View in this December 3rd AM NY report