Home of Lisa's Top Ten, the daily email that brings you the world.
The first task of the day

Sign Up for Lisa's Top Ten


‘It’s All Speculation’: U.S., Israel Reportedly Don’t Know How Many Hostages are Still Alive in Gaza

People walk by photographs of Israeli civilians held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, April 9, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
People walk by photographs of Israeli civilians held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, April 9, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

By: Jake Smith, Daily Caller News Foundation

There is near-total uncertainty surrounding the status of the remaining hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, U.S. and Israeli officials anonymously told NBC News.

Hamas took over 250 men, women and children as hostages during its attacks against Israel on Oct. 7 that left roughly 1,200 people dead. Over 100 hostages have either been freed, released by Hamas or discovered to be dead in captivity since then, but the status of the remaining roughly 130 hostages — of which 50 are already believed to be dead — is virtually unknown to U.S. and Israeli intelligence, officials told NBC.

“Not at all,” a former senior Israeli official told NBC when asked if there was a stable estimate as to how many hostages are alive. “No one reliable has this information. It’s all speculation.”

Hamas makes it incredibly difficult to get visibility on the ground in Gaza or information as to the hostages’ condition, U.S. officials told NBC. Adding to the problem is that Hamas previously claimed it lost track of some of the hostages because of Israeli airstrikes in the region, though that claim was not independently verified.

“We are concerned about the well-being of those unaccounted for or held hostage in Gaza,” a State Department spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday. “We continue to work with our partners in the region to press Hamas to allow the [International Committee of the Red Cross] access to hostages in order to provide them with medical care and medicine, and to verify their current conditions.”

The State Department could not confirm any additional details about the status of the remaining hostages.

A deal is currently being negotiated between Israel and Hamas through international negotiators to initiate a temporary ceasefire in Gaza in exchange for the release of hostages. One proposal offered in April to Hamas was a six-week ceasefire and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Hamas to release 40 civilian hostages.

But Hamas admitted last week that it may not be able to provide 40 living civilian hostages. Instead, the terrorist group is now offering to release only 20 hostages and demanding a higher number of Palestinian prisoners in return, a senior Israeli official told Barak Ravid of Axios.

Qatar, the key negotiator of the deal between Israel and Hamas, said on Wednesday that talks have hit a “stumbling block.” Hamas provided “ridiculous excuses” for why it reduced the number of hostages to be released from 40 to 20, the official told Ravid.

“The answer that Hamas gave had far-fetched elements,” the official told Ravid. “There is not even a single clause in which Hamas approves or accepts the position of the mediators. Hamas took the entire proposal and changed it from the ground up and doubled and tripled the demands.

Israel and Hamas continue to wage war against each other in Gaza, mostly in the south, as the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has successfully cleared out the terrorist group from most of the north and central region. Israel sees a ground invasion in Rafah, the southernmost part of the region, as essential to winning the war, but has held off from the operation amid international concerns it could endanger civilians in the region.

“The conclusion is that Hamas is dragging its feet, is not interested in a deal and a cease-fire and continues to hope for regional escalation,” the official told Ravid.

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with a statement from the State Department.

Related Story: U.S. Flying Spy Drones Over Gaza to Search for Hostages: Report

Read More

Related Posts