Little Hope for Quick Release of Hamas Hostages

Hamas has confirmed that 250 hostages are being held by various factions of the terror group. This adds a complicating factor to hostage negotiations, as the United States discovered in 1980 with the Iran hostages.

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The 52 Americans captured in Iran were trophies of war, held by various factions of the Iranian revolution who used them for domestic political purposes. They were status symbols that the revolutionaries gained notoriety and political capital in holding.

It’s very likely that something similar will play out in Gaza — at least with the 50 hostages not being held by Hamas’s main force. This will make negotiations torturous and extremely dangerous.

Upping the pressure, Hamas released a video of a French-Israeli woman lying in a bed being treated for a wounded arm. The mother of the hosatge, Mia Schem, begged to have her daughter returned home.

“I saw she is alive, I saw that she was… I heard before rumors that she was shot in the shoulder or in the leg so I can see she was shot in her shoulder, I see she had an operation, she looks very terrified, she looks like she is in big pain, and I can see that she says what they tell her to say,” the mother told reporters. She urged everyone to “stop this terror” and bring her daughter back home along with other hostages.

Meanwhile, like a cat playing with a mouse, the terrorists are already beginning their psychological torture of the families by raising false hope and then dashing it.

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A spokesman for Hamas, Ghazi Hamad, made it clear that the “guests” would not be released anytime soon.

NPR:

As for the hostages taken by Hamas, Hamad claimed they were providing the nearly 200 people with shelter and protection.

Those hostages include some military personnel, children and one Holocaust survivor, Israeli military spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said early Tuesday morning during a briefing on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Hamad said Hamas would not release hostages: “But it is a war. No. Our priority now is to stop aggression and death on Gaza.”

Hamad said he is more concerned with Palestinian civilians than with hostages.

Meanwhile, “A senior Hamas official told NBC News that the group is willing to release all civilian hostages immediately — within an hour — if Israel stops its bombing campaign of Gaza.” That’s a safe promise to make since Israel has no intention whatsoever of a bombing halt.

Another “Hamas official” demanded that Israel release 6,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails before the hostages were released.

Related: Israel Will Maintain Total Blockade of Gaza Until All Hostages Are Released

Making the situation even more excruciating, a Hamas spokesperson casually mentioned that several of the hostages were already dead — killed during Israeli airstrikes. Dr. Basem Naim, Hamas’s head of political and international relations, told Sky News: “I have no idea” how many hostages had been killed  “because it is impossible under this heavy bombardment – the communications are totally cut.”

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He also said the ruling Palestinian militant group in Gaza was ready to release civilian hostages when “aggression against our people is stopped”.

“At the time the aggression stops, we are ready to release the civilian hostages,” he said.

“I hope that we will have hostages alive at the time the aggression ends because al Qassam Brigade [Hamas’s armed wing] announced yesterday that nine of the hostages were killed under Israeli bombardment.

“And three days ago 13 others were killed – including four foreigners.”

In the first few days of the war, Hamas hijacked the social media accounts of many hostages where they live-streamed threats to the families.

New York Times:

In a new war tactic, Hamas has seized the social media accounts of kidnapped Israelis and used them to broadcast violent messages and wage psychological warfare, according to interviews with 13 Israeli families and their friends, as well as social media experts who have studied extremist groups.

In at least four cases, Hamas members logged into the personal social media accounts of their hostages to livestream the Oct. 7 attacks. In the days since, Hamas also appeared to infiltrate their hostages’ Facebook groups, Instagram accounts and WhatsApp chats to issue death threats and calls for violence. Hamas members also took hostages’ cellphones to make calls to taunt friends and relatives, according to the Israeli families and their friends.

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With whom should the Israelis, the Americans, and other foreign countries negotiate? Is there anyone in Hamas who has the authority to release all the hostages? Are the hostages even alive?

The coming weeks and probably months of this hostage nightmare will be excruciating for the families of those being held.

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