Hamas says it can release only 20 live hostages

Hamas sources claiming only 20 hostages are alive may be a tactic to wage psychological warfare and force concessions from Israel.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

A senior Israeli official reported that Hamas, after rejecting previous hostage release proposals, now says it will free only 20 hostages to Israel in exchange for hundreds of convicted Palestinian terrorists.

The offer comes after Hamas repeatedly rejected proposals for a phased ceasefire proposal beginning with a 6-week pause in fighting, the release of 40 women, children, and wounded hostages, and the release of hundreds of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails.

According to a source within Hamas, the reason for the revision of the number of released hostages downward is that there may not be more than 20 alive, and the terror group may not be aware of the location of others.

There is speculation that Hamas may be saying that no more than 20 hostages are alive to wage psychological warfare, force concessions, and extend the conflict with Israel.

Of the 133 hostages remaining in Gaza, Israeli sources have confirmed that more than 30 have already died in captivity, with some estimates putting the number of deceased hostages as high as 70.

Israeli sources have insisted that it is Hamas, not Israel, that wants to prolong the conflict and put roadblocks in the way of a peaceful resolution.

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U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller called out Hamas for its lack of cooperation with the hostage and ceasefire deal.

Miller said on Monday that Israel has “moved significantly from its previous position, but it is Hamas that now stands as an obstacle to a cease-fire in Gaza.”

He added, “There is a significant offer that came from us and our partners last week. There is a deal on the table that allowed Hamas to get most of what they wanted – and they did not agree.”

“If they had agreed it would have led to an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for six weeks – which would have helped the Palestinian citizens whom they claim to represent,” Miller concluded.