The terrorist militia Hamas abducted 240 hostages to the Gaza Strip during an attack on Israel. But 40 of them have disappeared. How can that be?
Update from December 1st, 7:44 p.m: Three more civilians have died after being abducted from Israel. The body of 27-year-old Ofir Tzarfati was found in the Gaza Strip and returned to Israel, according to the Israeli army. That’s what she reports Times of Israel. Late on Thursday evening, the army informed his relatives of his death. He had been considered a hostage by the terrorist group since his disappearance at the Supernova music festival, which Hamas attacked on October 7. It is unclear whether he was killed then and his body taken to Gaza or whether he died in Hamas captivity.
54-year-old Ronen Engel lived in Kibbutz Nir Oz, which, like many other towns, was hit by Hamas on October 7th. He was also suspected to be among the hostages. His kibbutz reported his death, but did not say when Engel died. Like Tzarfati, he could have been murdered on the day of the terrorist attack. His body is said to be in the hands of Hamas. His wife and two daughters were taken hostage by Hamas and released on Monday (November 27).
56-year-old Maya Goren also comes from Kibbutz Nir Oz. She too was previously considered a hostage of Hamas. Her kibbutz reported her death without specifying when exactly she died. She was busy working at a daycare center when Hamas terrorists attacked her place.
Israel News: Kibbutz reports death of 85-year-old hostage in Hamas captivity
Update from December 1st, 3:58 p.m: The Israeli Kibbutz Nir Oz reported today, according to the Times of Israel the death of one of the hostages still in Hamas hands. The kibbutz resident Aryeh Zalmanovich died in Hamas captivity. The 85-year-old, one of the founders of this kibbutz, was taken hostage on October 7th.
“As a father of two children and grandfather of five, Aryeh was a down-to-earth man all his life, working in agriculture and crops; a man of reading with extensive knowledge of history and the country. May his memory be a blessing,” said the leadership of his kibbutz. The terrorist organization Hamas released a video in mid-November in which Zalmanovich appeared to be ill. Hamas had claimed that he died later, but this claim has not yet been confirmed.
Hamas accuses Israel of rejecting “all offers” for further hostage releases
Update from December 1st, 11:57 a.m: Hamas today accuses Israel of having rejected “all offers” for further hostage releases Sky News reported. Israel therefore bears responsibility for the “resumption of war and aggression,” said Hamas. This claim contradicts an earlier statement by Benjamin Netanyahu that it was Hamas that did not agree to release more hostages. Iran also blames Israel, the US and “some governments that support this apartheid regime” for a failed ceasefire extension, such as the Times of Israel reported.
First report: Gaza – The situation of the hostages kidnapped from Israel to the Gaza Strip is probably even more confusing than previously thought. After agreeing on a ceasefire with Hamas in the war in Israel and exchanging hostages for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, the mediating country Qatar delivers the next bad news: 40 of the Israeli hostages are said to have disappeared without a trace in the Gaza Strip.
Israel News: Missing hostages captured by other groups?
Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani reported in an interview with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani that even Hamas itself cannot say where the missing hostages are Financial Times. This means that around 40 women and children cannot be located. The reason for this could be the involvement of other radical Islamic groups.
Hamas probably has no overview of hostages “those from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the PIJ [Palästinensischer Islamischer Dschihad] and other smaller groups,” said the senior analyst of the AEI Critical Threats Project’s Salafi-Jihadi team Business Insider. The Islamic Jihad in Palestine claimed to have 30 of the kidnapped hostages in its control.
Hamas probably did not act alone in the attack on Israel
It wasn’t just Hamas fighters who took part in the attack on Israel on October 7th. The attack, in which around 1,200 Israeli soldiers and civilians were murdered, is also said to have been carried out and coordinated with the participation of Islamic Jihad. Hamas has told Qatar that its fighters have not captured any civilians and is blaming other militant groups, Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammad said. The information cannot be independently verified.
The distribution of hostages therefore has an impact on the release of those abducted. Since Israel is only in negotiations with Hamas, it could be difficult to locate all the hostages. Also because other terrorist groups could see more value in the prisoners than Hamas.
Hamas must negotiate with Palestinian groups for hostages
“Hamas cannot simply order the handover of the hostages, especially since everyone else knows that the hostages are of value to them too,” Hans Jacob Schindler, an employee of the Counter Extremist Project, told the Business Insider. Hamas is therefore not only conducting negotiations with Israel, but also with the various radical Palestinian groups.
The hostage situation was one of the most complicated of his career. “Not just because of the number of hostages, but because of the number of groups that took hostages.” These groups would also not respond to Hamas’ negotiations.
So far, the terrorist organization Hamas has handed over 69 of the kidnapped hostages to Israel. In return, Israel released 150 imprisoned Palestinians to Gaza. The negotiations between Israel and Hamas also included deliveries of aid to the Gaza Strip. The search for more hostages could now be an opportunity to extend the already extended ceasefire.
Hostages may also have escaped or been killed
There are two other options for the missing hostages. The optimistic view is that some hostages could have managed to escape from their captors, says Schindler in the interview. “It is always possible that hostages will escape from where they are being held.” The second, although unlikely, possibility would be the death of some hostages. According to Schindler, the idea is unlikely because Hamas would try to blame Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip for the deaths.
Hamas could also buy time in the war against Israel by saying it won’t find the hostages, said Rachel Briggs, CEO of the think tank The Clarity Factory Business Insider. The way the hostages were released bit by bit by Hamas was a sign that “playing for time is definitely something Hamas is trying to do.” (nhi)