February 18, 2024 | Flash Brief

Unless Hamas Releases Hostages, Israel to Push into Rafah During Ramadan

February 18, 2024 | Flash Brief

Unless Hamas Releases Hostages, Israel to Push into Rafah During Ramadan

Latest Developments

Hamas must release hostages by Ramadan, otherwise Israel said on February 18 that its Gaza Strip military operations would continue into Rafah. The Ramadan fasting month begins the evening of March 10.

The Gaza city of Rafah is the “last bastion” of Hamas, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has vowed to tackle Hamas’s four intact combat battalions that reportedly remain in Rafah, as the Israeli military continues to dismantle the ruling Palestinian terrorist group. Israel says that a Rafah sweep is imperative and unavoidable, and that it is developing a plan to move Rafah civilians out of harm’s way.

“The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know — if by Ramadan our hostages are not home — the fighting will continue to the Rafah area,” said Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, in a speech to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem.

“We will do so in a coordinated manner, facilitating the evacuation of civilians in dialogue with our American and Egyptian partners to minimize civilian casualties. But to those saying the price is too high — I say this very clearly: Hamas has a choice. They can surrender, release the hostages, and this way, the citizens of Gaza can celebrate the holy holiday of Ramadan.”

Expert Analysis

“Three weeks remain until the high point of the Muslim calendar, when the faithful traditionally emphasize goodwill and reconciliation. Between now and the beginning of Ramadan, Arab and Muslim powers must face the fact that Hamas has been a disaster for Palestinians and that the Israelis are doing everyone a favor by removing it from power. Arab and Muslim powers would also do well to understand that the humanitarian crisis of Gaza will be solved when the humanitarian crisis of Israel will be solved — when the hostages violently dragged across the border on October 7 are released.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Hamas can take two simple steps to end the war: release the hostages and surrender. But Hamas leaders are unlikely to acquiesce to these demands, because their sole raison d’etre is to destroy Israel through bloodshed and violence. They do not see themselves as responsible for the population of Gaza. Tragically, the future of over a million displaced and vulnerable Gazans lies in the hands of a genocidal terror regime.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Hostages in Limbo

Hamas continues to hold 134 hostages in Gaza, according to Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari. The IDF believes that 29 hostages have been killed in Gaza since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not yet performed its most basic functions of proof of life and verification of medical treatment more than nineteen weeks after Hamas took approximately 240 hostages into Gaza.

ICJ Rejects South Africa’s New Attack Against Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

The Battle in Rafah, the War with Tehran,” FDD Foreign Podicy featuring Clifford D. May, U.S. Rear Admiral (Ret.) Mark Montgomery, and Israeli Major General (Ret.) Amir Eshel

Hamas Threatens Hostages Over Israeli Operation Against Rafah,” FDD Flash Brief

What’s at stake for Israel, Hamas in Rafah showdown?,” by Seth J. Frantzman

Rafah in Israel’s sights as next Gaza moves loom,” by Seth J. Frantzman

Hamas stronghold in Gaza’s Rafah is key to its survival – analysis,” by Seth J. Frantzman


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