May 20, 2024 | The Jerusalem Post

Hamas hostage video reveals depths of group’s evil

The full evil capabilities of Hamas stem not only from its willingness to murder innocents, but from the support the terrorist group receives from Western activists and Palestinian allies.
May 20, 2024 | The Jerusalem Post

Hamas hostage video reveals depths of group’s evil

The full evil capabilities of Hamas stem not only from its willingness to murder innocents, but from the support the terrorist group receives from Western activists and Palestinian allies.

On Sunday, the IDF released two videos that soldiers recovered of hostages making statements, on orders from Hamas. IDF chief spokesperson R.-Adm. Daniel Hagari said, “during our ground operations in Gaza, our troops found raw footage filmed by Hamas for their psychological terror videos.” The videos show two sisters, Ela, 8, and Dafna, 15, abducted from Nahal Oz on October 7.

The videos were released with the permission of the Elyakim family. “Ela’s family asked us to share it with the world to expose Hamas’s terror, to expose Hamas’s cruelty, to expose Hamas’s barbarism,” the IDF said.

Hamas clearly did not want the videos disseminated, otherwise, it would have done so, as it has other hostage videos, providing a glimpse into how it perceived its crimes.

Hamas leaders mostly live abroad, in Doha, Qatar. After the attack, Hamas received consistent support from Russia, Iran, China, Turkey and Qatar. Both Turkey and Qatar are US allies.

The fact that Hamas has connections with Western allies, means that it likely consults with its leadership abroad about strategy toward the West. While Hamas filmed its crimes in a killing frenzy on October 7, it may have heard later that abusing children in videos might not get the support it wanted in the West.

Pro-Hamas activists in the West were told to rip down hostage posters, to erase their images. Video images of children would likely have bothered and reflected badly on Western poster rippers, many of them students at top-level universities.

It would be harder to justify ripping down the image of a child on a hostage poster if Hamas was broadcasting the same image in a propaganda video.

According to the IDF, the time-stamp for the video is several days after the kidnapping itself. “Ela told us that Hamas terrorists forced her to read from a script, forced her to change her clothes, and forced her to re-film this terrifying scene over and over and over again,” the IDF said.

Both girls were released during the hostage agreement in late November. “The video released today for the first time, was intended to be used by Hamas for psychological terror,” the IDF said.

When it comes to Hamas’s decisions, everything is intentional; from the act of kidnapping to deciding who will be released and will not. Hamas trained for this with a prepared network of tunnels.

The extent of Hamas’s evil nature and its crimes against humanity

Hamas appears also to have connections at various hospitals to which it brought and held the hostages. These were  hospitals with foreign staff or NGOs linked to them. Hamas must have known that the staff there would not disclose the fact that Hamas was bringing hostages to places like Shifa Hospital.

This indicates detailed planning. Most medical professionals around the world would raise the alarm if they saw armed men bring in hostages, especially injured elderly people, women, and children. Even medical teams working in complex environments, such as where cartels are present, would be concerned to see cartel gunmen bringing in hostages. But not in Gaza.

After October 7, Hamas had so many hostages – 253 at the beginning – that it believed it held the key to getting whatever concessions it wanted from Israel. Its leaders – some of whom, like Yahya Sinwar, were released in the Schalit deal in 2011 – assumed that Israel would be forced to release thousands of Palestinian terrorists.

Hostage-taking has been a Hamas method of warfare for years, and as a result its leaders have been released in deals going back decades. Its leadership abroad thrives on this, as do the countries that back it. They view it as leverage to bring Hamas to power in the West Bank and replace the Palestinian Authority.

However, Hamas also didn’t want to completely alienate Western countries after October 7, as its hosts are Western allies. Some of its leaders have lived and received education in the West, and it has networks of supporters there.

As such, Hamas differs from Hezbollah or other Iranian proxies which generally do not have connections outside the Iranian orbit.

Hamas has always kept one foot in the Iranian camp and one foot in the West, as the West has hedged on Hamas, seen by some there as a potential partner, wanting to keep channels of communication open.

Just 10 days after October 7, Hamas released two American women, a mother and teenage daughter. Largely forgotten today, tough questions were never asked about why Hamas released them.

Hamas likely did this to make sure it would still have some leverage over the West. Days after freeing the two, Hamas released two elderly hostages on October 23, in what it claimed was a humanitarian gesture.

Hamas likely heard from its leadership in Doha that holding children and elderly women did not look good; releasing some could garner credit with the West. This is the estimated time stamp for the videos of Ela and Dafna.

And yet, Hamas did not release these videos, and the question is why? Because its backers warned that it did not look good to be making children hostage videos?

Hamas’s crimes against humanity on October 7 should be prosecuted. It then proceeded to commit more crimes by forcing children to make hostage videos.

Yet they have not been charged. The withdrawal of the child videos shows what Hamas wanted to hide after likely taking advice from abroad. It shows the full calculating evil of Hamas.

What makes Hamas most dangerous is not only its willingness to commit terrorist massacres, but its cooperation with Western activists and allies. The videos are harrowing, but it is good to hold them up to the pro-Hamas crowds in the West who cheer them on.

Seth Frantzman is the author of Drone Wars: Pioneers, Killing Machine, Artificial Intelligence and the Battle for the Future (Bombardier 2021) and an adjunct fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Issues:

Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power Palestinian Politics