A military operation to rescue hostages held by Hamas militants looks almost impossible, with experts warning that diplomacy must now be the main focus, with the Israeli army revealing that the number of prisoners has risen to more than 200.
Fourteen days after Hamas invaded Israel in a surprise attack, officials in the Jewish state estimate that 203 people are being held hostage by the Islamist group.
Given the large number of innocent captives, including children, women, and the elderly from nearly 40 different countries, hostage negotiation experts fear military rescue is impossible and are calling on the United States and Qatar to contribute to a strategic rescue operation.
“Prisoners are being held by other organizations besides Hamas.”
He added: “We have not witnessed such a situation in modern times.” New York Post Christopher O’Leary, a former senior FBI official who led several hostage recovery teams;
“Israel must negotiate the release of the hostages as a priority, while at the same time working to collect more information,” he said, adding that Israeli air strikes could lead to further destruction of buildings, leading to many hostages being injured or even killed. And he kills.
How the Israeli government deals with dozens of kidnappings was reflected in the statements of the Israeli Minister of Economy, Nir Barkat.
Speaking about the imminent ground invasion of Gaza, he said that the hostage issue comes second.
As ABC News reported, the Israeli minister said hostages and civilian casualties were secondary to destroying Hamas, “even if it takes a year.”
He went on to say, “The Israeli government made a decision and gave the green light to the army: Get rid of them. Now the matter is in the hands of the army.”
Qatar, the country facilitating aid to Gaza, is currently acting as an intermediary between the Islamic group and US officials.
At least 13 Americans are said to be among the hostages.
O’Leary noted that Qatar is a valuable ally that helped negotiate hostage situations in Afghanistan and Iran. But while countries urged Israel to back off its counterattack, the Jewish state continued its air strikes on Gaza.
Hamas officials claimed that at least 22 hostages were killed in the raids, which Israel dismissed as mere psychological warfare.
Gershon Baskin, who negotiated the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011, is among those who believe that Israeli bombing is compromising the safety of hostages.
“Hours, maybe days” remain before the window for hostage release closes, says a negotiator with previous Hamas experience. Click on the image below to read more ↓ https://t.co/Iv9xvBUgKU
– CTVNews October 19, 2023
“No one thinks about the next day”
Baskin stated in an interview with the New York Post that “the sacrifice of hostages and soldiers seems normal today.” “No one thinks about the next day. What will happen to Gaza?”
The location of the hostages remains unknown, but Israeli military officials said they had obtained some information about their possible whereabouts.
Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the military wing of Hamas, claimed on Telegram that dozens of hostages were in “safe places and in resistance tunnels,” referring to the vast network of underground tunnels under Gaza.
“We do not know under what conditions they are being held.”
Meanwhile, the Pentagon sent a small group of special operations forces to help Israel locate and rescue the hostages.
Hamas subsequently released a video of Mia Schem, 21, a French-Israeli national who appeared to be receiving medical care for a hand injury when she revealed she was in Gaza after being kidnapped from the Supernova music festival on October 7.
“They take care of me, they give me medicine, and everything is fine. I just ask that I be sent home as soon as possible to my parents and brothers,” Shim says in the video. “Get me out of here as soon as possible. please”.
First video for #Israeli hostage in #Gaza taken by #agitation It depicts a 21-year-old woman named Mia Shim, who was injured in the arm and received medical treatment. She has been kidnapped before #Hamas_terrorism On October 7, 2023 – #Gaza_attack #IsraelGazaWar #Gaza_under_attack #Gaza City pic.twitter.com/hiN7hrKCkp
— MrRexCasino.com (@Mr_Rex_) October 16, 2023
“Top secret” documents discovered by Israeli reporters indicate that Hamas fighters were directed by their leaders to kidnap civilians.
One plan said two highly trained Hamas units were instructed to surround and infiltrate Kibbutz Kfar Saad and work together to trap as many unsuspecting Israelis as possible, according to documents written in Arabic.
One unit will work to “contain the new Da’at School,” while the second group will “collect hostages” and “search the Bnei Akiva Youth Center and the old Da’at School.”
However, O’Leary noted that Hamas does not have full control over Gaza, adding that other extremist Islamic groups and civilians are also involved in kidnappings. Hamas claims that at least 50 people are being held by other organizations.
“These other organizations have historically been more extreme than Hamas, so we don’t know what conditions they are being held in,” O’Leary said.
Experts also say that Hamas is well aware of the global condemnation of the kidnappings, and is behind the sudden release of videos of some hostages being cared for and sometimes released.
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