April 17, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Obstructs Hostage Negotiations

April 17, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Obstructs Hostage Negotiations

Latest Developments

Hamas rejected all proposals and expanded demands during recent hostage negotiations, Israeli and American officials said on April 14, 15, and 16. Hamas rejected the latest Gaza ceasefire proposal on April 13 as Iran launched its drone and missile attack against the Jewish state. A joint statement from the Mossad and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on April 14 noted that Hamas’s “rejection of the proposal” shows that its leadership “does not want a humanitarian deal and the return of hostages, is continuing to exploit tension with Iran, and is striving to unite the sectors and achieve a general escalation in the region.”

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on April 15 that “Israel moved a significant way” in the latest round of talks and Hamas “is the barrier and the obstacle to a ceasefire in Gaza.” Miller told reporters on April 16 that Hamas is “the impediment” to reaching a deal.

Among other conditions, Hamas is reportedly demanding that Israel release 30 Palestinian security prisoners for every civilian hostage — 10 times the number originally agreed in a November 2023 hostage deal — and is now asserting that it can only release 20 “humanitarian” hostages, defined as women, children, the elderly, and the infirm, during the first phase of a future hostage deal. Previous proposals envisioned Hamas releasing 40 hostages during the initial ceasefire, but the terrorist group claimed on April 10 that it does not have 40 living hostages who meet the criteria for release.

Expert Analysis

“Hamas faces no pressure at this moment to make any concessions. That will only change when it’s forced to stare down its end.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“It should come as no surprise that Hamas has hardened its stance in the hostage negotiations. Hamas recognizes that international pressure, chiefly from Israel’s principal ally, the United States, is taking a toll on the Jewish state. The pressure on Israel has given Hamas and its partners in the Gaza Strip a new breath of life and an opportunity to try to end the war on their terms.” Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Hamas Turns Down Five Ceasefire Offers

Hamas previously rejected ceasefire proposals in December and January. In February, the White House expressed hope that Hamas had scaled back its demands, but the terrorist group continued to dig in its heels. In late March, Israel agreed to pause its counteroffensive in Gaza for six weeks and release approximately 700 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages. Hamas rejected that offer on March 26. Hamas rejected another ceasefire proposal on April 4, refusing to compromise on its maximalist position. “We are committed to our demands,” Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh said. Those demands include a permanent ceasefire, Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the return of Palestinians displaced from northern Gaza, and an “honorable prisoner exchange deal,” Haniyeh said. Jerusalem has repeatedly made clear that any deal that leaves Hamas intact is unacceptable.

129 Hostages Remain in Gaza

Hamas released 81 Israeli hostages during a week-long pause in November in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. Additionally, Hamas released 23 Thai nationals, one Filipino, and three Israeli-Russian dual citizens under separate arrangements with Bangkok, Manila, and Moscow. The pause collapsed on December 1, when Hamas refused to provide a list of the remaining women and children in captivity and resumed launching rockets at Israel. Israeli special forces rescued two hostages on February 12 and, on April 6, recovered the body of an Israeli hostage murdered by his captors in Gaza. Approximately 129 hostages remain in captivity, 33 of whom Israel believes are no longer alive.

Hamas Says It Cannot Locate Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Recovers Murdered Hostage’s Body,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Rejects Another Ceasefire Offer,” FDD Flash Brief


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