Report: Hamas Doubts Having 40 Live Hostages for Israel Swap

By Yoni Weiss

Photos of Kibbutz Nir Oz hostages placed on chairs and tables during a pre-Pesach Seder for the return of Kibbutz Nir Oz hostages at the kibbutz dining hall, near the border with the Gaza Strip, Thursday. (Liron Moldovan/Flash90)

Negotiations for a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas are hindered by Hamas’s uncertainty about its ability to release 40 civilian hostages. This complicates the proposed agreement, which includes a six-week ceasefire and the exchange of hundreds of convicted terrorists for a portion of the hostages held by the Hamas.

A Hamas official told the Wall Street Journal that the group could not guarantee the release of 40 live hostages, only committing to a total of 40 hostages. The ambiguity raises concerns about the fate of the hostages, with reports suggesting a significant number may already be deceased, either from initial capture injuries, health issues, or other violence.

U.S. and Israeli intelligence suggest that some hostages might be used as human shields, complicating their recovery. The ceasefire in November failed partly due to Hamas not providing a list of live civilian hostages, highlighting the challenges in securing a transparent agreement.

The situation reveals the complex dynamics of the negotiations, with mediators believing the majority of alive hostages are young men, including soldiers, whom Hamas values highly in the swap calculus. The refusal to comment by the IDF, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence underscores the delicate nature of the ongoing discussions.

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