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Hamas is playing cruel games with hostages

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.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Frank stetson

    Thank you Captain Obvious.

    No there here.

    I was surprised that Israel set the hurdle at 10 per day.

  2. Charles

    The Cease Fire and Hostages is not a good thing. What people fail to realize is Hamas on the run. A cease fire gives them a chance to breath and maybe survive. If Hamas is not wiped out there be more Hostages and more terror in the future. The real issue is gamble on getting Hostages back and still being able to put Hamas down permanently. That is a losing bet. The best thing for the future is to level Gaza an wipe out Hamas. If it is totally wiped out and Gaza leveled the future will be much more stable.

    • paul

      That is the least that they deserve , maybe throw in some torture along the way.

  3. Lyudmila


  4. Tom

    I agree Larry! Nixon once said of a hostage situation, “They should be considered the first casualties of war.”

    But again I digress to an earlier post of mine. Israel has had a part to play in all of this. They, and maybe in partnership with the UN need to do something better in Gaza. IF Israel wants to wipe out Hamas permanently, Israel must present a better vision, dream, and hope for the Palestinian people. Israel must prove that they will not go back to previous practices if the Palestinian people are willing to abandon Hamas and help secure their own peace and dreams. Going back to previous practices will only cause another Hamas to grow. And then there will still be the issue of how to deal with Iran and their proxies which seem to be the root cause of the violence. Despite a better vision, dream, and hope, there will still be unreformed / unrepentant anti-zionists that will linger in the shadows awaiting a uniting force or incident.

  5. frank stetson

    They’ve killed over 14,000 people in GAZA. Who knows how many Hamas. I think the innocents in Gaza get it, but not sure they feel in a position to turn Hamas in. Hamas has 20k-25k members, not sure if all in GAZA. 2M folks have left GAZA city and are south on the Gaza strip. You can bet Hamas is there too.

    As I noted, round one is destroy as much Hamas and all of their Gaza city infrastructure that Israel can. They probably are close to that but should enter the city and be sure the tunnels, command centers, armories, are destroyed. Round 2 is destroy the funding and punish anyone one who attempts to fund them. Chances are they learned from ISIS and any cash on-the-ground is hidden and not in banks as we know them. But they can possibly stop future funding, our forensic guys are pretty good at this. If it’s electronic I am betting we can see it. At least get them down to using pillow cases to transfer funds and holes in the ground as banks. Round three is hunt down the rest of Hamas, one by one, that will take time, years but Israel knows who the leaders are, they have the Mossad, they are better as assassination than we are probably. But wiping them off the planet is really hard IF people want to join. And people join for the cause, others just for the “fun.”

    Al Qaeda still exists
    ISIS still exists.

    The war on terrorism is endless. As are the disenfranchised who join up. Even if we magically made GAZA free and prosperous tomorrow, how many relatives of the 14,000 dead will join up in the future anyway. These things are endless. Removing things that disenfranchise can help, IMO, but nothing is a perfect solution.

    Hostages are a way of life now; I think saying they are the first casualties is a strategy, but not sure it would slow the taking of hostages one bit. Not sure it’s any deterrent at all. Every situation is a bit different, I am beyond joy at the ones we got out and don’t think it changed Israel’s position at all. Most HAMAS that wanted to leave, left by now.

    How Israel handles the south will be impossible in that I just don’t know how anyone would pick Hamas out of that crowd. They say they are going to try after the truce. And even if they bombed it all, all you get is dead hostages and dead Palestinian innocents and maybe a few Hamas. Meanwhile, there are about 2M Palestinians in GAZA and 4M more diaspora across the globe. Even if you wiped GAZA and The West Bank off the map, there’s 4M more in other countries that might take offense at that.

    It’s an extremely tough situation. HAMAS must go, Israel will put a real dent, real fast. Not sure the money can be stopped. And Israel will never rid us of all Hamas members, and no matter what happens in GAZA, there are diaspora everywhere. GAZA and The West Bank need freedom, but only if THEY stand up and put Hamas down in their region and NEVER let them back in. Which is as easy as calling 1-800-Israel will kill hamas, and turning them in. But can that ever happen? They could end apartheid tonight and I am not sure anything would change. Would freedom make Palestinians out Hamas, or just make Hamas the head of the new country. YECH — the middle east sucks.