Report: Hamas Unsure Of Whether It Has 40 Live Hostages For Prisoner Swap

By Arutz-7
Posted on 04/11/24 | News Source: Arutz-7

The Hamas terror group has expressed uncertainty as to whether it could gather 40 civilian hostages for release in a prisoner swap deal with Israel, officials familiar with the negotiations said.

The terror group's uncertainty complicates talks for a deal which would include a six-week ceasefire, the return of Gazans to northern Gaza, and the release of hundreds of convicted terrorists in exchange for less than a third of the hostages currently held in Gaza.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a Hamas official said that the terror organization would not commit to releasing 40 living hostages, but would commit to 40 hostages in total.

Hamas took approximately 240 Israelis hostage on October 7, and approximately 100 were freed in a November 2023 prisoner swap. Of the 133 remaining, 34 have been confirmed dead, but later reports claimed that at least 50 had been killed, indicating that around 80 might still be alive.

WSJ noted that US officials familiar with intelligence have said that according to some US estimates, most of the hostages are already dead. Of those, it is likely that most died of injuries from their initial capture, while others died of health issues or from violence. Still others were already dead when their bodies were taken hostage by Gaza terrorists.

Israeli and US intelligence believe that at least some of the remaining hostages are being used as "human shields" around Hamas leaders.

Hamas has repeatedly insisted that it needs a ceasefire in order to track and collect hostages to send back to Israel. The terror group made similar claims in November. November's ceasefire agreement collapsed, in part, due to Hamas' failure to produce a list of 10 living civilian women and children held in Gaza after the first swaps.

Mediators have noted that Hamas also claims that providing information on the hostages still in Gaza would mean giving up leverage in the negotiations for a deal, WSJ added.

Meanwhile, mediators believe that most of the hostages still alive are young men, including soldiers. Though Hamas could include a number of soldiers in the 40 hostages it returns to Israel in a prisoner swap deal, the terror group is unlikely to do so, since it wishes to demand a much higher price for soldiers than for civilians.

Neither the IDF nor the Prime Minister's Office would comment on the report; the Office of the Director of National Intelligence also declined to comment.