Explained: How Many Hostages Hamas Has And What Are Israel's Options


Experts feel Israelis will not "forgive" their leader if ensuring hostages' safety, and rescuing them, is not a priority.

New Delhi: 

Hamas has threatened to execute one hostage every time Israel drops a bomb, without warning, on a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip, Reuters said Tuesday, as the increasingly bloody war between the two sides rolls into a fourth day with no end in sight. The group has 150 hostages - including children and a Holocaust survivor - grabbed from border towns and kibbutzim in attacks that began early Saturday.

Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida said, "Every targeting of our people without warning will be met with the execution of one civilian hostage". AFP reported that four hostages have already died (it is unclear if they were Israelis or other nationals) but also that they were killed during Israeli air strikes.

The hostages present a significant problem for an Israeli government that has vowed to respond to Hamas' attacks with a "massive" assault and "unprecedented force"; Palestinians are bracing for a vicious response after Tel Aviv called up over three lakh soldiers, including reservists, ahead of a ground assault.

READ | NDTV Explains Why Gaza Is An 'Open-Air Prison' With No Escape

Public opinion has, so far been firmly with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He has the full support of the opposition too; ex-PM and current Leader of the Opposition, Yair Lapid, told NDTV Monday, "Nobody cares about politics right now... it doesn't matter."

READ | "Nobody Cares About Politics Right Now": Israel Opposition Leader To NDTV

However, some experts feel Israelis will not "forgive" their leader if ensuring hostages' safety, and rescuing them, is not a priority. "The citizens' attitude would be 'you have failed to ensure our security, bring us the hostages back'," Sylvaine Bulle, a French sociologist studying Israel, told AFP. 

Ms Bulle also predicted tension between politicians and the military if hostages were killed.

Will the Israel government risk public sentiment in its bid for revenge for Hamas' attacks? 

According to Kobi Micheal, a researcher from the Tel-Aviv based Institute for National Security Studies, "Hostages cannot be first priority. With all the sorrow... Israel will (address the) hostage issue only (when it has) the upper hand and when Hamas (is) defeated... not a second before."

Reuters has also said Qatari mediators are negotiating the hostages' release in exchange for 36 Palestinian women and children being held in Israeli prisons. Qatar's Foreign Ministry confirmed to Reuters it is involved and sources told the news agency talks are "moving positively".

There are contradictory reports, though; Hamas sources in Qatar told AFP there is "currently no chance for negotiation on the issue of prisoners or anything else".

LIVE COVERAGE | Bodies Of 1,500 Hamas Operatives Found Near Border: Israel

On Monday Mr Netanyahu declared war on Hamas and said, "Hamas terrorists bound, burned and executed children. They are savages. Hamas is ISIS..." Israel Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, on Monday ordered a "complete siege" of Gaza; "No electricity, no food, no water, no gas..."

The Gaza Strip - 365 sq km large and home to 2.3 million people - is already one of the world's most locked-down places. It is also the third most densely populated space in the world.

READ |Hamas Outmaneuvered Israel's Surveillance Prowess By Going Dark

Over 1,600 people have died, more than 6,000 have been injured since the war began on Saturday. Fifteen deaths have also been reported from the West Bank, where Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces. The United Nations has said over 1.3 lakh have been displaced so far.

Source: https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/hamas-israel-war-hostage-crisis-will-execute-1-hostage-for-each-bombed-gaza-home-hamas-chilling-warning-4466801


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