November 26, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hamas Releases Some Hostages, Roughly 200 Remain Unaccounted For

November 26, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hamas Releases Some Hostages, Roughly 200 Remain Unaccounted For

Latest Developments

The Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas has released two groups of hostages since the pause in fighting began on November 24, including 26 Israelis or dual nationals, all women and children, and 15 foreign nationals. A third group of 17 hostages was reportedly released on November 26, including 4-year-old U.S. citizen Avigal Idan.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that the first two groups of hostages were transferred to hospitals in Israel and reunited with their families. Approximately 200 hostages remain unaccounted for in Gaza who were kidnapped during Hamas’s October 7 attack.

“The released hostages underwent an initial medical assessment, one civilian was transferred to a hospital an hour ago, and others are currently on their way to hospitals where they will reunite with their families,” the IDF said on November 25. Maya Regev was named as the hostage transferred to hospital. She is the only released hostage so far who was attending the Nova music festival attacked by Hamas, where 360 people were murdered.

Expert Analysis

“Hamas continues to exploit the suffering of the hostages and the families waiting for them in Israel by inventing new reasons to delay their release. Although Hamas eventually agreed to release the agreed-upon number of hostages, it came only after pressure. As long as Hamas believes it can dictate terms, it will continue to harm families and hostages with these tactics.” — Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

“Hamas understands that it benefits from holding onto American hostages. By keeping their captives, Hamas can leverage them and potentially secure more favorable terms in any potential release agreement with Israel.” —Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Number of Remaining Hostages Unclear

The number of remaining hostages seized on October 7 and dragged back into Gaza has not been confirmed. Hamas has denied ICRC requests to visit the hostages or gain other proofs of life, although the White House stated access would be granted on November 27. Four of the Thai hostages released on November 24 were not previously listed as abducted, and one Thai hostage has given birth while in captivity.

Israel agreed to a pause in fighting in Gaza for four days starting on November 24, in return for Hamas releasing around 12 or 13 hostages each day, consisting of women and children. Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza held approximately 240 hostages on the eve of the deal.

Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages, 10 Thai hostages, and one Filipino hostage on November 24. The terrorist group then released 17 hostages overnight on November 25 and 26, including 13 Israeli civilians and four Thai citizens. A third group of 14 Israeli children and women and at least three foreign nationals were reportedly handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on November 26, according to Egyptian officials.

Many of the hostages released on Friday came from Kibbutz Nir Oz, and most of the hostages released on the second day of the deal came from Kibbutz Beeri. The release of the foreign Thai hostages was part of a separate deal between Iran and Thailand.

Hostage Release Followed Delays

Hamas delayed the release of hostages on November 25 and 26 until late into the night. The terrorist group also split up families during the hostage release. For instance, 13-year-old Hila Rotem was released, but her mother is still held in Gaza. Hamas claimed on November 25 that it was delaying Hila’s release for unspecified reasons, before eventually relenting under pressure from Egypt, Qatar, Israel, and the United States, to release the agreed-upon number of hostages. Two hundred trucks and 129,000 liters of fuel arrived in Gaza on November 25. Israel is releasing 150 Palestinian prisoners, in groups, over four days as part of the deal.

Hamas Continues to Deny Red Cross Access to Hostages, Proof of Life,” FDD Flash Brief

No Thanksgiving for Americans Held Hostage by Hamas in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Palestinian Authority Sidesteps Gaza Governance,” FDD Flash Brief

Pause in Fighting Begins Between Israel and Hamas,” FDD Flash Brief


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