Seeing the wonderful images of children being re-united with their parents, or one of their parents like our dear Emily, or their grandparents, uncles, and aunts like our dear little Avigail, one would like to feel nothing but happiness. We are touched, we have tears in our eyes (again and again). But at the same time, we can’t help but think of all those who are still hostages of the worst barbarians, and of whom we are (almost) without news, and to reminisce about all those who are no longer alive today. The weight of the future is heavy on us: all these promises with uncertain outcomes, all these questions without satisfactory answers. Therefore, finally, after our initial short-lived joy, the feeling that remains is anger, an anger that rises irresistibly within us and turns into rage.
Hamas is lying. Hamas lies all the time. Hamas lies to everybody. No subject is immune from their lies, their cover-ups, and their perverse deceit. The elaborate stagings we see every night, whereby we see “nice” terrorists gently patting the hostages that Hamas would like to be grateful for, their hands waving as if to say thank you to these “caring” terrorists, etc. You want to puke! And, alas, the comments that can be heard on foreign television channels (CNN, BBC, French channels except perhaps BFM, etc.) prove that Hamas’ perverse message is turning into truth, especially for those media outlets that are not inclined to objectivity towards Israel. Still, the freed hostages are talking. They recount the appalling conditions of their confinement, the lack of food, hygiene, sleep, the constant threats, the screams. An elderly woman lost 12 kilos in 50 days, several suffering from severe malnutrition, the wounded did not receive the necessary care, the sick never received medicine. We all think of 84-year-old Alma Abraham who is fighting for her life at Soroka Hospital.
Today (Tuesday, November 28, 2023) and tomorrow are important days. Crucial decisions will have to be made that will determine the outcome of this war, the survival of our dear hostages, and the future of Israel. The unbearable dilemma that has haunted Israel’s leaders since October 7 is well known: how to annihilate Hamas and also free the hostages? How can these two objectives be reconciled?
In my previous column, I argued that no decision was possible or even reasonable without knowing whether the 160 or so hostages remaining in the hands of the barbarians were still alive, or even healthy, if they had been abused or tortured. The International Red Cross is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem. We cannot count on this NGO, nor on most NGOs whose mission should be to help prisoners, hostages, women, children (MSF, UNICEF, UNESCO, etc.). And Hamas lies, again and again.
Several pieces of information have emerged in the last 24 hours about the hostages. Since we can’t believe a single word of what Hamas says, let’s try to interpret this information:
1- According to the current truce agreement, Hamas must release 10 hostages a day for 2 days (tonight and tomorrow night), WOMEN AND CHILDREN! But Hamas has been saying relentlessly since yesterday that they will probably not be able to find 20 women and children to release, and that they will therefore have to substitute a few men to get to 20. There were 65 women among the hostages. A dozen were released. There should be 55 remaining. There were 35 to 40 children among the hostages. Only about 20 were released. There should be 15 to 20 remaining. The explanation provided by Hamas is this: many hostages are not under our control, and even for those who are, we do not know their whereabouts. This is a blatant lie. Hamas is in total control of Gaza and knows perfectly well everything that is going on there. There are few possible explanations for this lie: either some of these hostages are no longer alive, or Hamas wants to keep some “high value” hostages as a bargaining chip if need be. In both cases, extending the truce in the hope that these hostages will return is a monumental mistake.
2- Raphael Jerusalmy, the excellent commentator of I24 News, reported yesterday on television a conversation overheard among Hamas jailers. Here is the essence: “let’s separate some of the hostages, let’s keep some women in particular in another place, isolated from the other hostages, because we will abuse these women.” (I refuse to use the real words here, which are too brutal). Just as I am writing these sentences, I feel the rage rising inside me again. If indeed these hostages have been abused, as Hamas has shown it knows how to do, these unfortunate victims are not in a physical or mental condition that would allow them to be released. Hamas does not want the world to see its cruelty and inhumanity. Extending the truce in the hope that these hostages will return is a monumental mistake.
3- In a statement of absolute cynicism attributed to Hamas and relayed by Qatar, we learn that “Hamas gave the two brothers Kfir Bibas (10 months) and Ariel Bibas (4 years) as a gift to another terrorist organization,” Hamas claims to ignore where they have been since. Note: these two brothers were held hostage with their parents Yarden and Shiri, of whom we have no news. Another press release issued this morning in the United States asserts that Kfir and Ariel have actually been sold to another terrorist group. Lies, again and again. Unfortunately, in my opinion, only two hypotheses are credible: either these two very young children are no longer alive, or Yahia Sinwar, with his customary cruelty, wants to keep them as his last bargaining chip to allow him to escape the IDF, he will soon need them! Extending the truce in the hope that these hostages will return is a monumental mistake.
4- There are reportedly about 100 Israeli soldiers, men and women, held in Gaza as hostages by Hamas. Hamas has said from day one that these soldiers will not be part of any negotiations and will not be released. Some of them were injured during their capture, how many survived? Many of them must have been “interrogated” by the savages of Hamas to try to extract military information from them, but how many survived? In what physical and mental state are the others? In the absence of the possibility of negotiated release, only the IDF force will be able to bring our soldiers home. Extending the truce in the hope of a negotiated return of these hostages is a monumental mistake.
In summary, between the soldiers, the hostages already freed, and the hostages deemed “untraceable”, it is understandable why Hamas says it cannot gather 20 women and children to be freed in the next 48 hours. Let us also remember that, according to Hamas, “every adult man must be considered an Israeli soldier,” and therefore not eligible for release.
Now let’s put the pieces of the puzzle together: Hamas is running out of hostages to release. Hamas needs time to continue rearming in order to further pursue its goal of exterminating Israel and the Jews. The “international community” is exerting unbearable increasing pressure on Israel for a permanent ceasefire day after day. Qatar, the West’s best false friend, is becoming a hypocritical relay of Hamas lies. And alas, for Israel, the number of hostages who can be released as a result of negotiations with Hamas is likely to be minimal.
Without being entirely sure, I hope that the Israeli government shares the analysis I am making here. Every hour that passes is an hour lost. Worse still, it is an hour during which Hamas is growing stronger at our expense.
Israel must, as soon as possible, this very evening, or at the latest tomorrow evening (Wednesday), resume the offensive with unfettered force with the aim of eradicating Hamas entirely, once and for all.