December 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

Khan Younis Operation Could Help Free Hostages, Israel Says

December 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

Khan Younis Operation Could Help Free Hostages, Israel Says

Latest Developments

Israel reportedly expects expanded Gaza ground operations to last at least another four weeks before the opportunity arises for another hostage release by Hamas. Citing unnamed defense officials, Israel’s Army Radio gave the projected timeline on December 6, saying that a successful military sweep of the southern Gaza Strip could generate enough pressure on Hamas for the Palestinian terrorist group to seek new terms for releasing some of the 138 hostages it still holds.

Tanks and troops entered Khan Younis, Gaza’s biggest southern population center, this week after Israeli forces asserted control over most of the northern Gaza Strip. Though less populated than Gaza City, the northern hub of Hamas governance and terrorism, Khan Younis retains a brigade-strength garrison of between 4,000 and 6,000 fighters as well as their commanders.

Another challenge facing Israeli forces there is avoiding civilian casualties, as Khan Younis and outlying areas have taken in thousands of refugees from the north. A week-long Qatari- and Egyptian-mediated truce, during which Israel recovered 108 hostages from Gaza, broke down on December 1, after Hamas reneged on the terms. Hamas has said since then that further hostage releases would require that Israel free all jailed Palestinian terrorists, numbering thousands of inmates — a non-starter for Jerusalem, as it would incentivize future hostage-taking and bolster Hamas’s ability to attack Israel.

Expert Analysis

“Israel has said throughout this war that the fight to destroy Hamas also serves the cause of freeing hostages by forcing the Palestinian terrorist group to make short-term concessions in order to survive. This will now be tested again in Khan Younis.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Employing a strategic approach to pressure Hamas into improving hostage terms seems rational. Yet it could potentially pose a serious dilemma for Israel in releasing high-ranking members of terrorist groups who are serving lengthy prison sentences for committing heinous acts of mass murder.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Israel Enters Hamas Stronghold in Gaza’s South,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Set to Sweep Southern Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Terrorist Commander Killed in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief


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