Not even 72 hours after Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel, comes the macabre announcement of retaliation on militia prisoners: «We will begin to publicly execute an Israeli civilian hostage for every Israeli bombing of civilian homes in Gaza without warning», is the threat of Palestinian terrorists.
An announcement that comes after both fronts have closed the doors to a negotiation“No negotiation is possible, on the issue of prisoners or otherwise,” warned Hossam Badrane, a member of Hamas’s political bureau in Doha. “We have to enter Gaza, we can’t negotiate now,” Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu reportedly said to US President Biden who was asking him for the hostages. While rumors continue to spread about the possible role of Arab countries in bringing home the dozens of men, women and children who have fallen into the hands of jihadists, desperate appeals on social media and alarms from chancelleries around the world are growing.
Why the hostages are Israelis but also Germans, British, Americans, French, South Americans and Asians. Citizens with dual passports of many countries. Some recognized and identified from the shocking videos of the kidnappings, viral on social media, others officially listed as missing or dead. In fact, their fate cannot yet be known with certainty. And the bombs do not distinguish whether you are a victim or a kidnapper: “Four Israeli prisoners were killed in the raids on Gaza”, claimed Abu Obeida, spokesperson for the Izzedin al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. And it is naturally difficult to distinguish between reality and propaganda.
However, there would be at least 130 hostages: one hundred in the hands of Hamas, thirty held prisoner by the Islamic jihad, their lives hanging by a thread. Numbers disclosed by the militiamen, while no official figures were reported by the Jewish authorities. The Israeli army has “the coordinates of all the hostages in Gaza”, the military spokesman assured in the evening. “The war started badly for us, but it will end very badly for the other side”, he warned. Israel therefore wants to resolve the matter, but not through negotiation between the two fronts, at least according to official rumours.
Meanwhile, rumors are growing about Arab mediations to reach an agreement that will lead to the release of the prisoners: An Islamic Resistance Movement source told China’s Xinhua agency that Qatar was brokering an urgent exchange with US support: Israeli women captured by militants in exchange for Palestinian women held in Jewish prisons. According to the source, Hamas informed Qatar that it would be willing to undertake the operation if all 36 Palestinian women held in Israeli prisons were released. The mediation was also confirmed by a senior American official and another person familiar with the matter on CNN.
But no confirmation came from Israel after yesterday it had already denied a possible Egyptian role in freeing the kidnapped people. Statements aside, the only certainty for the moment is that the issue regarding prisoners remains, while the fear of public executions for revenge grows. A fear that fuels the cries of pain from relatives and friends of the hostages, many of whom are very young. Some implore the Israeli government and the international community to look beyond politics. Like Malki Shmetov, the son missing after Saturday’s attacks: “It’s a question of humanity. Our children are there… please help them.”