Hamas on Friday released two American hostages who were kidnapped during an attack on Israel. As the New York Times writes, Qatar, where the political leaders of Hamas reside, played a “significant” role in this process. Other countries are also expected to cooperate with this country on the release of the hostages.
The spokesman for the armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas, Abu Obeida, announced on Friday that the US hostages – mother and daughter – had been released for “humanitarian reasons”. The president confirmed this information Joe Bidenwho announced that “efforts are underway to release additional hostages.”
The Times of Israel website reported that the freed women were 18-year-old Natalie Raanan and her mother, Judith. Two Illinoisans came to Israel for a relative’s birthday. On October 7 this year (the day Hamas attacked Israel), the family celebrated Simchat Torah together at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, on the border with the Gaza Strip, an unnamed high-level Israeli official told the website. The Israeli government and the US embassy in the country published photos of the freed women.
The American facility also reported that the women had a telephone conversation with President Joe Biden.
The important role of the country on the Persian Gulf
As the New York Times writes, on October 7, a few hours after Hamas launched its attack on Israel, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with the Prime Minister of Qatar. During the conversation, Blinken was expected to raise the issue of the release of hostages taken by Hamas, according to two senior State Department officials.
For the next nearly two weeks, Blinken and other U.S. officials – as well as representatives from Turkey, Egypt, France and many other countries – talked with their Qatari counterparts about the hostage release. As “NYT” writes, Qatar, a tiny country on the Persian Gulf, plays a significant role in this process.
On October 13, Blinken spent several hours in Qatar during his visit to the Middle East. He talked about the hostages with the country’s emir and its prime minister. At the end of his visit to Qatar, Blinken, standing next to the head of the Qatari government, told reporters that the two countries were “working intensively” to free the hostages and that he was “grateful for the urgency Qatar is giving to these efforts.”
Qatar is an American ally that hosts many Hamas political leaders. The country has a long history of mediating talks with organizations that United States they consider it terrorist – reports the American daily.
After Hamas released two American citizens on Friday, American officials thanked the Qataris. “Today I spoke with the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar about the crisis in Israel and the Gaza Strip and thanked him for Qatar’s work to secure the return of two missing American women, as well as Qatar’s efforts to improve security and stability in the region,” he wrote on the website X (formerly Twitter) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
As the New York Times writes, Qatar has experience in mediating similar situations, and this role, in addition to its huge natural gas resources, has given it leverage in the international arena. In 2016, said Robert D’Amico, a former FBI official who handled hostage cases abroad, Qatari officials were finalizing talks with the Taliban aimed at freeing Colin Rutherford, a Canadian citizen abducted in Afghanistan by militants.
“We don’t trust the Taliban,” D’Amico said. – The Taliban don’t trust us. But both sides trust the Qataris, he added.
Why were they released? “I don’t know if you want to release the seriously injured”
The question still remains why these two women were released. Robert D’Amico stated that this may have been due to the fact that both were in good physical condition. – I don’t know if you want to release the seriously wounded, he said. – It just looks bad – he added.
As “NYT” adds, several Hamas hostages were seriously injured before they were captured, including one California resident whose grenade damaged half of his arm.
Another reason D’Amico mentions is that Natalie Raanan and her mother Judith are American citizens. Hamas may be trying to soften Israeli retaliation against the Gaza Strip by showing its goodwill toward President Joe Biden’s administration. The American leader and his team are advising Israeli authorities on the issue conflict in the Gaza Strip.
One of the senior officials of the country involved in the negotiations, quoted by “NYT”, said that Hamas’ political leaders are trying to stop Israeli attacks on Gaza to allow the organization to collect information about all the hostages. They also had to agree to the release of all civilian hostages, including foreigners. However, it is still unclear when and under what exact circumstances Hamas would release the detained civilians.
Hamas took hostages during the October 7 attack. They include people of 22 nationalities, including 10 Americans, at least seven Germans, eight Argentines and three French.
Thousands of volunteers are helping Israel’s intelligence services and special forces to find the hostages, including civilian experts and reservists from the famous Unit 8200, responsible for secret operations and electronic intelligence, AFP reported.
If a hostage rescue operation were to take place, it would most likely be the responsibility of an elite unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – Sayeret Matkal (Reconnaissance Unit of the General Staff), which conducts various types of special operations, including rescuing hostages abroad – explained the French agency.
The countries whose citizens were abducted – primarily France, the USA and Great Britain – are trying to release the hostages through diplomatic channels, but officially all talks on this subject are controlled by Israel. In addition to Qatar, mediation in this matter is probably also conducted by Egypt and the president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that it had entered into talks with Hamas.
The scenario most frequently discussed by politicians for resolving this crisis is the release of the hostages in exchange for humanitarian aid for the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, AFP said.
The families of the abductees want to send delegations
Most of the hostages taken by Hamas to the Gaza Strip are still alive, and more than 20 of them are minors, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Friday.
The more than 20 minors abducted by terrorists include Kfri Bibas, just 9 months old, and his three-year-old brother Ariel, who were kidnapped together with their mother Shiri, according to data provided by the BBC.
Hamas claims it has 200 hostages and another 50 are being held by other “armed formations” in the Gaza Strip. The terrorist organization also claimed that more than 20 hostages were killed as a result of Israeli airstrikes, without providing any details, Reuters reported.
The families of people detained by Hamas plan to send delegations to London, Rome and other cities to appeal to foreign politicians for help in releasing them and to seek greater support for Israel’s war against terrorist organizations, CNN reported. The first delegation will go to London on Sunday.
“New York Times”, tvn24.pl
Main photo source: Reuters