Hamas Doesn’t Have Enough Hostages Alive

Hamas rejects yet another ceasefire deal, raising questions about its true aims.

What’s happening: Hamas rejected another hostage deal during negotiations in Cairo, Egypt.

  • Context: The new round of negotiations began after President Joe Biden called for an “immediate ceasefire.”

The details: The first phase of the deal would include a six-week ceasefire, thousands of Gazans allowed to return to North Gaza, and the release of more than 700 Palestinian terrorists — including 100 who are serving life sentences for murder — in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages. The second phase would include talks to end the war.

  • Disturbing: Hamas said it did not have 40 women, children, or elderly hostages who were still alive.

  • Response: Israel said Hamas should make up the difference with men and soldiers so that a total of 40 live hostages are released. Hamas demanded Israel release an even greater number of terrorists — likely moving the number upwards of 900.

  • Still: Despite these considerations, Hamas ultimately rejected the deal, saying it “didn't meet any of the demands of our people and our resistance.”

Leverage: Consistent Hamas rejection of ceasefire proposals has raised questions about whether they are serious about reaching one. They may have judged they have the best chance to survive without a hostage deal.

  • Why it matters: U.S. pressure on Israel to declare a ceasefire and end the war has ramped up in recent months. Hamas can see which way the wind is blowing, allowing them to make steeper demands. Ultimately, missteps by the U.S. and Israel may end up leaving Hamas in power and hostages still in captivity.

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