Sources in Israel last night said that the Shabak internal security agency knows where “many” of the 240 Israeli hostages are being kept – but cannot rescue them from Hamas’ clutches without risking a large number of civilian deaths among the Palestinian population.
Locations range from “facilities such as hospitals to apartment buildings” said a source, who added: “Many locations are heavily defended and even booby-trapped, designed to cause as many casualties as possible if there is a rescue attempt.
“Hamas doesn’t care about innocent Palestinians dying.” Israel’s IDF had intended to mount rescue operations for hostages being held in Gaza.
Last month the Sunday Express reported that British SAS soldiers who had been helping to train Israeli Special Forces were placed on standby during the October 7 attacks to use their hostage retrieval expertise to assist the IDF and intelligence agencies if called upon to do so.
Some 240 Israelis were kidnapped and taken to Gaza during the October 7 atrocity, where Hamas terrorists raided a series of Israeli kibbutzes, homes and even a music concert.
At least 1,200 Israeli civilians were murdered during the surprise attack, including young children pulled out from under their beds as more than 3,000 Hamas terrorists ransacked homes in southern Israel.
On Friday 24 hostages were released by Hamas – 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and a Philippine national – as part of a deal that has brought about a temporary pause in hostilities.
They included very young children whose seven-week ordeal in captivity is finally over after they were abducted during last month’s bloody attacks.
In return, Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners – 24 women, including some convicted of attempted murder for attacks on Israeli force – and 15 teenagers jailed for offences such as throwing stones.
The four-day ceasefire marks the first break in seven weeks of the war in Gaza and offers some relief for the 2.3 million Palestinians who have endured intensive Israeli bombardment, as well as for families in Israel fearful for the fate of their loved ones taken captive during the attack that triggered the conflict.
Under the temporary ceasefire agreement, Hamas is due to free at least 50 of the approximately 240 mostly Israeli hostages it has held since launching attacks into southern Israel on 7 October in which 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed.
In return, Israel will release at least 150 Palestinian prisoners and allow up to 300 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
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In a nationwide Israel Democracy Institute poll, the retrieval of hostages was found to be a top priority for Israeli jews, coming second only to the toppling of Hamas.
But the two are proving to be increasingly incompatible, as PM Benjamin Netanyahu comes under increasing global pressure over the high number of Palestinian civilians killed and injured since IDF troops entered Gaza three weeks ago.
Speaking last night regional expert Catherine Perez-Shakdam, research fellow as ACLS think tanks, said: “By launching the October 7 attacks and taking hostages Hamas laid a trap which Benjamin Netanyahu, who understandably under pressure to react, walked into.
“Israel has been force to hand over many more Palestinians hostages than the number of hostages it is getting back, knowing all the while that Hamas is using the ceasefire to regroup and plan its next action.
“Despite thousands of Hamas deaths, Hamas is still running the show. It is Hamas which is deciding which names gets on the hostage list, not Israel.
“As things stand, continuing with Operation Iron Swords in Gaza seem to be handing Hamas as much victory as stopping would, and it will continue like this until all the hostages are freed.”
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