Fewer Than Half Of The Hostages In Gaza Still Alive, US Intel Believes

By Israel’s official tally there should be 116 Israeli hostages still in Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip, but new statements issued by US intelligence officials say the number of captives still alive might be as low as 50. Initially, about 250 were taken captive during the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror attack of Oct.7.

The Wall Street Journal writes, citing a new intel review of the situation, “That assessment, based in part on Israeli intelligence, would mean 66 of those still held hostage could be dead, 25 more than Israel has publicly acknowledged.” The hostages have been held for 258 days at this point.

In early June the military conducted a daring raid in central Gaza which freed four hostages, but killed scores of Palestinians, via AP.

Of the eight captives with American citizenship (dual nationals), three were previously reported by Israel to be deceased. The fact that there are Americans among the hostages has received relatively little mainstream media attention.

Still, hostage and ceasefire talks mediated by Qatar and Egypt have failed to move forward, and the situation remains dire given there could be more hostages lost by the day, with Hamas maintaining its position that it doesn’t actually know how many still remain given there’s a grinding war on in the Strip. Hamas officials have blamed unrelenting Israeli airstrikes for killing off many hostages.

The number of hostages alive or dead has been an issue in cease-fire talks brokered by the U.S., Egypt and Qatar,” WSJ continues. “As part of a deal, hostages would likely be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Israel was initially unwilling to accept dead bodies to meet the number of hostages required to be released in the first phase of any deal, but its latest proposal presented to Hamas says it would accept dead bodies.”

The Netanyahu government’s lack of progress on getting the hostages released through negotiations has continued to drive large-scale protests, including a violent one earlier in the week in front of Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, resulting in nine arrests.

Currently tensions are soaring between military leaders and PM Netanyahu, following Wednesday remarks of military spokesman Daniel Hagari, who asserted that Hamas can not be completely be rooted out because it is “an ideology”. This was seen as a direct contradiction of Netanyahu’s vow to not stop until the group is eradicated.

“This business of destroying Hamas, making Hamas disappear — it’s simply throwing sand in the eyes of the public,” Hagari had explained in an Israeli Channel 13 news interview. “Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a party. It’s rooted in the hearts of the people — anyone who thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong.”

Netanyahu’s office quickly responded, pointing out that this precisely remains the war’s goal. The statement said the security cabinet “has defined as one of the war goals the destruction of Hamas’s military and governance capabilities.” It emphasized, “The Israel Defense Forces is of course committed to this.”

Retired Israeli General Israel Ziv commented in a US media interview that Israeli military leaders feel they have “exhausted the purpose of the war” and have reached a “tactical peak”.

“We are getting close to finishing the job defined by the government and we’ll reach a point when we’re just fighting guerrilla warfare, and that could take years,” Ziv described.

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Originally Posted at; https://www.zerohedge.com//