Hamas Can't Locate 40 Israeli Hostages Needed For 1st Round Of Ceasefire

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Apr 10, 2024 - 05:25 PM

Lebanese and Israeli sources are reporting that Hamas is open to releasing hostages as part of deal that would see IDF troops gradually retreat from the Gaza Strip, instead of its prior demand of full troop withdrawal as a precondition to letting the hostages go free.

But any potential forward progress has been stymied by a significant complication revealed by Hamas to negotiators on Wednesday. The group is unable to identify and locate some 40 Israeli hostages which would be needed to complete the first phase of the ceasefire deal. 

FP/Getty Images: Keys are left behind in a door riddled with bullet holes and stained with blood on Oct. 10, after Hamas militants stormed a kibbutz in Kfar Aza, Israel.

A security source told CNN, "The inability - or unwillingness - of Hamas to tell Israel which hostages would be released, alive, is a major obstacle."

This possibly confirms prior reporting by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which in March said that Israeli officials believe only 60 to 70 Israeli hostages in Gaza are still alive.

"According to the IDF, a total of 134 hostages and bodies are being held in Gaza," Haaretz wrote Thursday. "Thirty-six of the people were confirmed by the army as killed – some on October 7, when their bodies were taken into the Strip. Of the 98 living hostages, 10 are foreigners (eight Thais, one Nepalese national, and one man with Mexican and French citizenship)."

The 40 'missing' hostages currently being discussed by negotiators may or may not be deceased, and it could be more of an issue of locating where they are being held. The past many months of grinding war has likely served to isolate the cells which are holding them separately, as CNN details:

The majority of the almost 100 hostages who remain alive are believed to be male IDF soldiers or men of military reserve age. Hamas is expected to try to use to them in later phases to try to negotiate more significant concessions, including more high-level prisoners and a permanent end to the war.

The more than 250 hostages captured or killed on October 7 are believed to have been spread out among different members and factions of Hamas, as well as other militant groups, gangs and even held by families.

So there may be this significant wartime logistical hurdle to overcome before the first phase of any potential hostage deal can even be implemented.

A working draft deal mediated by Qatar is said to stipulate as a first phase the release of 40 living hostages made up of women, the elderly, and the sick. This would happen during an initial six-week pause in the fighting. But at this point, per CNN sources, since Hamas is "unable to reach 40 in the proposed categories, Israel has pushed for Hamas fill out the initial release with younger male hostages, including soldiers."

There's a possibility that some of the hostages could have been killed by Israeli's relentless bombing campaign which has decimated entire neighborhoods. A horrifically tragic incident last December saw three Israeli hostages shot dead by Israeli forces who mistook them for Palestinian militants.

Israeli leadership under Netanyahu has been accused by the hostages' families of prioritizing the military operation to defeat Hamas far and above hostage recovery.