Status: 29.11.2023, 16:04 PM
By: Nils Hinsberger
The terrorist militia Hamas abducted 240 hostages to the Gaza Strip during the attack on Israel. But 40 of them have disappeared. How can that be?
Gaza – The situation of hostages abducted from Israel to the Gaza Strip is arguably even more confusing than previously thought. After an agreement was reached with Hamas in the war in Israel on a ceasefire and the exchange of hostages for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, the mediator country Qatar brings the next bad news: 40 of the Israeli hostages are said to have disappeared without a trace in the Gaza Strip.
Israel News: Disappeared Hostages Captured by Other Groups?
Not even Hamas itself can say where the missing hostages are, Qatar's Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in an interview with the Financial Times. This means that about 40 women and children cannot be found. The reason for this could be the involvement of other radical Islamic groups.
40 Israeli hostages have disappeared in the Gaza Strip, according to Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. They could be in the hands of other Islamist groups. © Newscom / EyePress/IMAGO
Hamas probably has no track of hostages "held by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] and other smaller groups," the senior analyst of the Salafi-Jihadi team of AEI's Critical Threats Project told Business Insider. Palestinian Islamic Jihad said it had 30 of the kidnapped hostages in its possession.
Hamas did not act alone in attacking Israel
The attack on Israel on October 7 did not only involve Hamas fighters. The attack, in which about 1200,<> Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed, was reportedly carried out and coordinated with the participation of Islamic Jihad. Hamas has told Qatar that its fighters have not captured civilians and is blaming other militant groups, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammad said. The information cannot be independently verified.
The distribution of hostages therefore has an impact on the release of the abductees. Since Israel is only negotiating with Hamas, it may be difficult to locate all the hostages. Also because other terrorist groups might see a higher value in the prisoners than Hamas.
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Hamas must negotiate with Palestinian groups for hostages
"Hamas can't just order the handing over of the hostages, especially since everyone else knows that the hostages are of value to them as well," Hans Jacob Schindler, an employee of the Counter-Extremist project, told Business Insider. Hamas is conducting negotiations not only with Israel, but also with the various radical Palestinian groups.
For him, the hostage situation is one of the most complicated of his career. "Not just because of the number of hostages, but because of the number of groups that have taken hostages." These groups would also not respond to Hamas' negotiations.
Hamas abducted some 7 hostages to the Gaza Strip on October 240. Some have since been released. © Eyal Warshavsky/IMAGO
So far, the terrorist organization Hamas has handed over 69 of the abducted hostages to Israel. In return, Israel has released 150 detained Palestinians to Gaza. The negotiations between Israel and Hamas also included the delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip. The search for more hostages could now be an opportunity to extend the ceasefire, which has already been extended.
Hostages may also have escaped or been killed
There are two other options for the missing hostages. The optimistic scenario is that some hostages may have managed to escape from their captors, Schindler says in an interview. "It is always possible for hostages to escape from where they are being held." The second possibility, albeit unlikely, 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 could not find the hostages, Rachel Briggs, CEO of the think tank "The Clarity Factory" told Business Insider. The way in which the hostages were released by Hamas piece by piece is a sign "that playing for time is definitely something Hamas is trying to do." (nhi)