update deskIsrael at War

Israel: Dozens of hostages held in Gaza remain alive

Some 120 captives, both living and deceased, are believed to remain in the Strip.

Pedestrians walk past pictures of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, June 16, 2024. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Pedestrians walk past pictures of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, June 16, 2024. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Many of the 120 hostages who remain in Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip are believed to be alive, a senior Israeli official involved in ongoing negotiations with the terrorist organization said on Tuesday.

“Dozens are alive with certainty,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to not being authorized to speak to the press, told AFP. He claimed the vast majority of the captives are being held by Hamas, and not by other terror groups in the coastal enclave.

The official told the wire agency that Israel cannot end the conflict with Hamas before a hostage deal is reached because the terror group could “breach their commitment … and drag out the negotiations for 10 years” or more.

“We cannot leave them there for a long time; they will die,” he said, adding that Hamas’s persistent demand that the Israel Defense Forces leave Gaza as a precondition for a deal remains unacceptable to Jerusalem.

The reason for this is that “during the first phase, there’s a clause that we hold negotiations about the second phase. The second phase is the release of the men and male soldier hostages,” the official explained.

The official said the Israeli government had green-lit U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposed deal, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed does not call for a permanent end to the war.

“We expect, and are waiting for, Hamas to say ‘yes,'” he said, warning that the IDF would continue to fight the terror group in Gaza in a “different” but “no less intense fashion” if it again rejects a truce deal.

On Monday, an official in Jerusalem told Ynet that Israel will not commit to ending the war until Hamas releases all of the captives.

The official said that the hostages must be freed in the first and second phases of Washington’s proposed ceasefire agreement, as approved by the United Nations Security Council on June 10. However, he noted that Hamas made “substantial changes to dozens of items” in the outline.

The terror group is demanding an end to the war and full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, he said, adding that Jerusalem’s war goals still stand—the defeat of Hamas as a military and governing power in Gaza, the return of all of the hostages and the guarantee that Gaza can never again pose a threat to Israel.

More than 250 people were abducted to Gaza during Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist invasion of the northwestern Negev, during which thousands more were killed and wounded, with numerous atrocities documented.

One-hundred and twenty hostages remain in the Strip, of whom 116 were abducted on Oct. 7 (the other four were captured earlier). The figure includes both living and deceased men, women and children.

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