US media reports say US president’s administration has pressed Israel to delay its imminent invasion of Gaza to allow for the release of more hostages held by Hamas and for aid to reach Gaza.

CNN says that according to two sources briefed on the discussions, the release of two Americans held by Hamas Friday signaled that more of roughly 200 people believed to be kidnapped by the militant group may be freed after they were taken during the group’s deadly attacks launched against Israel two week ago.

“The [administration] pressed Israeli leadership to delay because of progress on the hostage front,” and the need to get trucks of aid into Gaza, one person familiar with the discussions was cited as saying.

The New York Times says American officials also want more time to prepare for attacks on U.S. interests in the region from Iran-backed groups, which officials said are likely to intensify once Israel moves its forces fully into Gaza.

The administration is not making a demand of Israel and still supports the ground invasion and Israel’s goal of eradicating Hamas, the group controlling Gaza that killed about 1,400 people in terrorist attacks on Oct. 7, the officials said, according to The New York Times.

The National Security Council (NSC) of Israel reportedly did not immediately respond for comment.

According to CNN, a senior Israeli official denied the US is seeking a delay of its ground incursion into Gaza.  “We deny this report. We have a close dialogue and consultations with the US administration. The US is not pressing Israel in regards to the ground operation,” the official said.

When President Joe Biden was asked Saturday if he was encouraging Israel to delay the invasion, he responded: “I’m talking to the Israelis.”

Qatar, acting as a middle-man for the US and Israel, has reportedly been leading the discussions with Hamas about releasing the hostages since they were abducted by the militant group. According to a diplomat briefed on the talks, the negotiations have included talks about getting much-needed aid into Gaza and the need for a temporary ceasefire to get the prisoners out. Israel has not indicated they are considering a ceasefire.

Meanwhile citing Palestinian health officials, Al Jazeera reports that nearly 5,100 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign against the besieged enclave after an attack by Hamas inside Israel more than two weeks ago.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health reportedly said on October 23 that about 40 percent of the 5,087 people killed are children.   

Thousands of buildings have been destroyed, and more than one million people displaced in the territory, which has been under siege and largely deprived of water, food and other basic supplies.