November 23, 2023 | Flash Brief

No Thanksgiving for Americans Held Hostage by Hamas in Gaza

November 23, 2023 | Flash Brief

No Thanksgiving for Americans Held Hostage by Hamas in Gaza

Latest Developments

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas continues to hold at least nine U.S. citizens hostage in Gaza. The negotiated deal reached between Hamas and Israel announced on November 22 to have Hamas release 50 hostages — largely women and children — is expected to result in the release of three Americans. One of them is a three-year-old child whose parents were killed by Hamas on October 7. The fate of the additional U.S. hostages is unknown, as Hamas has failed to provide access or proof of life to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

On November 23, the Foreign Ministry in Doha announced plans for implementing the deal starting November 24, following hold-ups that Israeli, U.S. and Palestinian officials said were caused by last-minute efforts to finalize the details.

Expert Analysis

“When you hear about the 150 Palestinians returned as part of the hostage deal, you must understand this: These are terrorists who were in Israeli jails for stabbings or attempted stabbings, hurling firebombs or stones, incitement to violence, and other crimes. The hostages are civilians — innocent children and mothers brutally abducted by Hamas from their beds.” —Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Israel has two primary objectives for the war: to destroy Hamas’s military capabilities and to bring home all of the hostages held in Gaza. While every Israeli supports the return of women and children, they also know that there is still much work to be done. The terrorists in Gaza are still intact, still able to fire rockets at Israeli civilians, and the fate of over 180 hostages is still unknown.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Hamas Set to Receive 150 Israeli-Held Prisoners in Exchange for 50 Hostages

In exchange for the return of 50 hostages, Israel agreed to release 150 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom are accused of violence against Israelis. Hamas initially demanded the release of 6,000 jailed Palestinians in exchange for hostages held in Gaza. On November 22, the government of Israel published the names of 300 Palestinian prisoners under consideration to be released under the terms of the exchange. Most of the names on the list are male prisoners under the age of 18 or are women. At least two are accused of attempted murder, including a teenager who tried to stab her Jewish neighbor to death in December 2021. Other prisoners are held being held on charges of causing serious bodily harm, assault, arson, and possession of weapons and explosives.

Hamas’s Patron in Doha Plays Key Role in Hostage Negotiations

Qatar, a main financial supporter of Hamas, has played a role as an intermediary in the hostage negotiations. On October 28, Doha’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, in an apparent effort to pressure Israel, complained that Israel’s stepped-up Gaza offensive is complicating Qatari efforts to secure the release of the hostages. Doha reportedly gives Hamas between $360 million and $480 million per year. Hamas also maintains an office in Doha, and several senior Hamas leaders live as billionaires in Qatar. Additionally, Qatar’s state-sponsored media channel, Al-Jazeera, amplifies Hamas messaging. Doha’s role in hostage negotiations raises questions as to whether the United States will push Qatar to close the Hamas office, expel Hamas officials, and cut off financial support to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas Demands Release of Terrorists in Exchange for Israeli Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Releases Two American Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

U.S. Wrong to Involve Qatar and Turkey in Israeli Hostage Negotiations,” FDD Flash Brief 


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