U.S. and Israel Reportedly Conclude Most Hostages Held In Gaza Are Dead

2024-04-12 10:01:48

Almost a week after the Israeli military largely withdrew from Gaza, Hamas is demanding a ceasefire to ‘locate’ the hostages amid reports that most of the captives may have been murdered by the terrorist group since their abduction more than six months ago.

“Fears are rising over the fate of the remaining hostages held in Gaza after Hamas said it was unsure whether it could bring forth 40 Israeli civilian captives as part of a U.S.-backed cease-fire proposal, according to officials familiar with the negotiations,” The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“Around 130 remaining hostages taken in the attack are still in Gaza. Of those, Israeli officials have publicly confirmed that 34 are dead, but Israeli and American officials estimate privately that the number of deaths could be much higher,” the business daily added.

According to a proposed hostages-for-terrorists deal pushed by the Biden administration, 40 hostages, including women, children, sick and elderly are to be released by Hamas to secure an initial six to eight week truce. Under the Biden-backed deal, Israel will have to free 900 convicted Palestinian terrorists and murders in exchange for these 40 hostages.

Quoting Hebrew language media outlets, The Times of Israel reported Thursday:

(…) Hamas has indicated it is unable to provide 40 living hostages in the category set for initial release under a potential hostage deal — women, children, the elderly, or those requiring medical attention.

The release of other hostages including adult men and captured soldiers is under a separate category.

According to [Israeli public broadcaster] Kan news, Israel has insisted that 40 living hostages must be freed under any first phase, and that Hamas must make up for any shortage in one category with individuals from another.

According to Channel 12 news, Mossad chief David Barnea, Israel’s top official involved the negotiations, told cabinet ministers on Wednesday that freeing all 133 captives and remains held in Gaza in a single truce agreement would be impossible, and that at best 40 people could be freed in a first phase.

Of the 253 hostages kidnapped during Hamas’s October 7 attacks, in which terrorists slaughtered some 1,200 people, 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that. Three hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 12 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military

The uncertainty over the well-being and safety of hostages grew even more after Hamas last month failed to hand over the list of living hostage still in its control — leading to the breakdown of Biden-backed ceasefire talks.

In early March, The UK newspaper Telegraph noted that “Hamas was refusing to hand over the names of living hostages, stalling talks for a ceasefire.”

Hamas, which can’t even name 40 living hostages out of over 130, is using their plight to extract further concessions.

“Bassem Naim, a prominent Hamas figure, underscores the urgency of a ceasefire agreement, citing the necessity for “enough time and safety” to ascertain the fate of Israeli captives scattered throughout Gaza,” the Israeli TV channel i24NEWS reported Thursday. “While Israel has confirmed the deaths of at least 34 hostages, both U.S. and Israeli officials have suggested that the actual number of casualties could be significantly higher.”

The CBS News quoted Israeli sources Thursday, confirming “Hamas can’t locate dozens of hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attacks.”

IDF drops hostage leaflets in Rafah, urges residents to pass on information

Leaving no stone unturned, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) dropped leaflets over the last remaining Hamas stronghold of Rafah, asking residents to pass on information about the whereabout of the Israeli hostages.

The Jerusalem Post reported Friday:

The IDF distributed flyers in the Tel Al Sultan area of ​​Rafah, calling on the local population to pass on information about the abductees, according to Friday reports on Israeli media.

The flyers, which were scattered from the air, displayed photos of the abductees.

The caption attached to the photos read, “Look carefully around you. The hostages may be near you. If you want to protect your families and secure your future, don’t hesitate to give us information about the abductees or who holds them.”

IDF, Mossad approve Iran strike plan if Israel attacked

With intelligence reports warning of an imminent Iranian attack on Israeli soil, the IDF and the country’s spy agency Mossad have worked out a retaliation plan in case of a terror strike.

The Iranian attack is likely to come as most Israelis on Friday prepare for Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, reports warn. “Israel is bracing for a direct and unprecedented attack by Iran,” Bloomberg noted Friday. The Telegraph (UK) on Friday cited a U.S. intelligence official stating, “Israel is preparing for a direct attack from Iran in the next 24 to 48 hours.”

The Israeli news website YNET reported:

Israel on Friday was bracing for a possible attack from Iran, after understanding that Tehran would not back down from its intent to avenge the killing of a senior member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds force in Damascus last week, in a strike attributed to Israel.

The IDF and Mossad approved plans for an attack on Iran in the event that Israel would come under attack from Iranian territory. Additionally, the coordination between the U.S. and Israeli militaries, has increased. (…)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday told his American counterpart Lloyd Austin that if there is an Iranian attack on Israel, the IDF would respond accordingly. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who visited an Air Force Base said Israel was preparing to respond to its security needs both defensively and offensively.

IDF hits Hamas, Islamic Jihad targets in central Gaza

Nearly a week after pulling out most troops, the IDF conducted a ground operation against Hamas and Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror targets in central Gaza.

“The 401st Brigade, Nahal Brigade, and additional units under the command of the 162nd Division continue their targeted raid to eliminate terrorists and destroy terrorist infrastructure in the center of the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in press statement Friday. “As part of the operation, the Nahal Brigade carried out targeted raids on several buildings used by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations, and located terrorist infrastructure.”

The IDF on Thursday eliminated the head of Hamas’s ‘police’ in the northern part of Gaza. Besides leading terror operations, the slain ‘police’ chief was responsible for hijacking the incoming humanitarian aid meant for Gazans. “Radwan gave orders to Hamas operatives and was responsible for directing armed terrorists to take control of humanitarian aid trucks in the northern Gaza Strip,” the military disclosed.

Despite Hamas’s misuse of humanitarian supplies, the Israeli military continued to deliver aid to Gaza.


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U.S. and Israel Reportedly Conclude Most Hostages Held In Gaza Are Dead


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