The news that Israel and Hamas/Qatar have agreed in principle to a two-day extension of the ceasefire means about 20 more Israeli hostages might come home in the coming days. It also shows Hamas’s ability to manipulate everyone else involved in the conflict’s diplomatic element. The ceasefire flips the power dynamic in a way that lets the one non-state actor here tell everyone else what to do. That is because, simply, Israel values life and Hamas cherishes death—anyone’s death.
It is also because Hamas is in a position to lie effectively, so President Biden should pay close attention to how much he can trust the terrorists across the border while absorbing mounting pressure to tie Israel’s hands before the Jewish state can ensure its own safety and security going forward.
Most debriefing of the newly freed Israeli hostages will have to wait until they receive medical care and are integrated back into daily life. But one piece of important information has already come out: 13-year-old Hila Rotem Shoshani was, according to the girl herself, held together with her mother until Hamas separated the two a couple weeks ago. Hila’s 54-year-old mother, Raya, is still in captivity.
Hamas lied when it agreed to release mothers with their daughters. But there’s a more distressing lie here: Hamas’s claim not to know Raya’s whereabouts.
The exposure of this lie pairs nicely with yet another.
Hamas’s strategy for prolonging the ceasefire, and thus the terror group’s time in power and ability to prepare for another round of war with Israel, requires a specific level of ambiguity. Hamas cannot refuse to return more captives without triggering the end of the ceasefire. It also cannot gain an extension without a list of names that it believes it could return to Israel. So the solution, from Hamas’s standpoint, is to claim it needs more time to locate the other hostages and secure their custody.
Why wouldn’t Hamas know where some of the captives are being held? Because, the Financial Times reports, “Hamas has told Qatar that its fighters did not capture civilians, blaming it on other militant groups and Palestinians who rampaged through southern Israel after fighters broke through the Israeli security barriers around Gaza, [Qatari Prime Minister] Sheikh Mohammed said. When the hostage deal was brokered, it was agreed 50 women and children would be released because that was the number Hamas said it had been able to secure, Sheikh Mohammed said.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani may or may not believe his own statement, but it doesn’t really matter. Two paragraphs later the Financial Times makes clear: “Video posted on social media on the day of the October 7 attacks, as well as footage collected by the Israeli military in subsequent weeks, showed Hamas fighters, some in uniform, and other Palestinians going through Israeli houses killing civilians and taking others captive.”
The fact that anyone would pretend to need video proof to believe Hamas harms civilians in the year 2023 shows us the level of intellectual dishonesty we’re dealing with. According to the IDF, Hamas seems to have kidnapped some of the hostages and transferred them into a different faction’s custody. If true, that goes even further toward exposing what a sick and farcical shell game this whole hostage negotiation is. And one of those believed to be in that group of hostages is a ten-month-old child. A baby.
It’s also worth noting, as Seth Frantzman did last night, that whatever lack of communication Hamas has with “other groups” in Gaza didn’t get in the way of a relatively clean ceasefire. The agreement was with Hamas, but everyone stopped shooting at Israelis. Either Hamas has tight control of Gaza… or Iran does.
You know who doesn’t have control of Gaza? Qatar. The filthy rich middleman. Good work if you can get it.
Hamas is lying in order to stay in power and continue murdering and torturing innocents. It cannot be allowed to succeed. That’s the whole ballgame. Everything else is noise, and Biden should filter it out.