Hamas is playing cruel games with hostages
It was estimated that there were up to 240 hostages taken by Hamas. They were grabbed in conjunction with the barbaric raid on innocent citizens of Israel – and several other nations. They are being used as human bargaining chips.
Hostage taking has been a winning strategy for terrorist groups and states for decades. In 1979, 52 American diplomats and citizens were taken hostage by students who overran the U.S. embassy in Tehran when terrorists took over Iran. They were held hostage for 444 days. They were released in a negotiated deal with the President Carter administration that released $7.9 billion dollars in Iranian frozen assets and pledged not to interfere in Iran’s internal affairs. In what was interpreted as a slap at the Carter administration, the announcement of the release was issued minutes after the swearing in of President Reagan.
Another notable exchange occurred in 2011, when Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was traded for 1027 Palestinians in a deal with Hamas. Shalit was the first Israeli soldier captured by terrorists to be repatriated alive. One of the Palestinians released in that exchange was Yahya Sinwar, who is said to have been the architect of the brutal Hamas’ October 7th attack on Israel. He was in prison for murdering a number of Israeli soldiers.
In 2014, President Obama secured the release of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban in exchange for five terrorists being held in Guantanamo Bay. While the condition of release was that they do not return to Hamas – at least two of them did. It was a controversial exchange because Bergdahl was an Army deserter and all five of the Taliban were hardcore terrorists.
As part of the 2015 Nuclear Deal, Obama agreed to grant clemency to seven Iranians charged with violating sanctions and dropped extradition request for fourteen others. In return, Iran released four American hostages, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.
Coincidentally, Obama sent $400 million in cash on pallets in a private plane. It was claimed to be part of a $1.7 billion dollar settlement as the result of a failed arms deal during the reign of the Shah of Iran. Because of the decision to settle the claim – and the timing — many viewed it as a ransom.
In 2022, Biden traded Viktor Bout — a Russian arms dealer terrorist and close friend of Russian President Putin — for WNBA star Brittney Griner. It was controversial because Bout was a high-valued prisoner and dangerous operative. In addition, Biden achieved Griner’s release after ten months while Paul Whelan had been languishing in a Russian Prison for four years.
Earlier this year, President Biden reached a deal with Iran for the release of five Americans in return for five Iranians held in the United States. In addition, Biden ordered the release of $6 billion dollars in frozen Iranian assets.
With a track record like that, it is no wonder Hamas terrorists engaged in both slaughter and capture. There can be no doubt that it was a strategic move – and the taking of the hostages was not a random or impromptu action.
While there has been speculation and guestimates as to the number of hostages – and the exact composition among men, women, children and soldiers, most authorities agree that there are likely around240 being held hostage.
Hamas could release all the hostages they hold at one time – but that diminishes the hostages strategic value. The cynical plan is to release as few as possible over the longest period of time – keeping pressure on Israel to suspend military activities. The Hamas strategy is working. The hostages are the reason for the initial four-day humanitarian pause. Hamas has bargained them for a brief pause in a war that Hamas is clearly losing. To some extent, it provides Hamas with time to regroup and rearm.
Hamas has already indicated that they will not release the approximate 120 Israeli soldiers they hold. As long as there is a war, Hamas needs prisoners as bargaining chips. If they were to release them all, there would be no reason for Isael to show restraint or engage in humanitarian pauses.
While it is believed that Hamas has control of all the hostages, they are saying “not so.” They claim that other groups are holding some hostages. That is most likely a lie. The hostages were taken by a single terrorist unit. There is no reason for Hamas to have handed over hostages to units they do not control. They certainly know where all the hostages are.
No matter the terms under which some hostages are being released, it is worthy of celebration. Every hostage released is a humanitarian victory – even as we hope and pray for the return of all of them.
But that is where pessimism takes over. It is unlikely that all the known hostages will be returned alive. It is probable that some of them are already dead – and have been for a while. Personally, I believe Hamas’ claim that unknown groups having some of them is a ruse to divert blame for those who are dead – or will die in the coming days.
Hamas is heartless in their taking and maintaining the hostages. That should come as no surprise after seeing how they so brutally slaughtered more than 1400 innocent souls. People who can do that are sociopaths with no regard for human life. In fact, it is Hamas’ avowed mission to kill Jews.
We cannot expect them to treat hostages with compassion and decency. For them, the 240 people who were or are in their custody are not human beings in the terrorist eyes. Just bargaining chips. And they are getting what they want in the bargain.
So, there ‘tis.