Attempting to Recover the Hostages

To increase the humanitarian aid delivered to Gaza, US and European officials are pressing Israel to allow aid to be shipped to the Israeli port of Ashdod, about 16 miles north of Gaza. From Ashdod, after Israeli security checks, the aid would then be transported to Kerem Shalom, the Israeli border crossing through which aid has been allowed into Gaza. Why doesn’t Israel agree on condition that Hamas will first release all of the hostages? If Hamas refuses, Israel can broadcast to the world that Hamas will prolong the suffering of Palestinian civilians rather than release the Israeli hostages.

Since Hamas fighters avoid uniforms, Israel often treats men of military age who ignore evacuation orders as combatants. Journalists and UN officials are outraged over the harsh treatment by Israel of Palestinian detainees in Gaza. But they cannot deny that Israel releases all detainees who are cleared of involvement in terrorist activity. This treatment of Palestinian detainees in the presence of outside observers is in sharp contrast to the unknown treatment of Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7, and hidden deep underground, far from the prying eyes and ears of all nonmembers of Hamas. Why don’t these aggressive journalists and UN officials demand access to the Israeli hostages so that they can inform the anxious families and the world how well the hostages are faring in captivity? If journalists and UN officials are denied access to the Israeli hostages, how many of them will commend Israel for rejecting the opportunity to hold a group of these Palestinian detainees as hostages (to be treated compassionately and allowed regular visits by health care professionals, journalists, and U.N officials) for the purpose of exchanging them for the Israeli hostages?

Israel wants to create a half mile wide buffer zone along its 36-mile-long border with Gaza. This buffer zone would be intended to make it more difficult for fighters from Gaza to execute another cross-border attack similar to the one on Oct. 7. However, officials in other nations assert that a buffer zone inside Gaza would violate international law because Israel would have to demolish many Palestinian homes. Israel might be able to satisfy objections from the US government by proposing a transitional arrangement during which the buffer zone would be built by Israel and later demolished after Hamas has been disarmed and expelled from Gaza.

About the Author
Ted Sheskin is a professor emeritus of industrial engineering at Cleveland State University, and the author of a textbook, Markov Chains and Decision Processes for Engineers and Managers. He has published peer-reviewed papers on engineering systems and mathematical algorithms. His letters to editors addressing politics, economic policy, and issues facing Israel and American Jews have appeared in the NY Times, Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Jewish News, Jewish Week, the Forward, and Jewish Voice.
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