Home inSight Digging Deeper on the Hostage Raid

Digging Deeper on the Hostage Raid

Shoshana Bryen
An IDF helicopter with three of the rescued hostages landing in Israel. (Photo: IDF)

How do you parse all the emotions?

Eight months after the worst deliberate torturous murder, rape, and mutilation of Jewish people since the Holocaust, four Israelis were rescued from the clutches of Hamas and its civilian minions. (A “journalist” was found to have kept three hostages in his home for months while he “reported” on the war.) But while Israel had a reason to cheer through its tears, the world’s attention quickly shifted away from the crimes committed against Israel to deaths in Gaza.

Last weekend is worth considering.

On Thursday, an Israeli raid hit a building in Nuseirat, killing a number of people; Hamas claimed 23 women and children. Saying its reporter had seen the bodies, AP reported  33 people, including 12 women and children killed, citing “local health officials,” i.e., Hamas. The hospital morgue later changed its own records to 3 women, 9 children, and 21 men – and it turned out the AP reporter counted body bags without knowing who or what was in them.  Hamas released the names of 18 “martyrs”  – no women on the list – and the IDF identified two from Hamas’s Nukhba forces, several from Islamic Jihad, and one who participated in the 10/7 massacre.

What were three women and nine children doing in an UNRWA school with 21 men associated with terror organizations? According to the IDF, “Hamas and PIJ terrorists directed terror from the area of the school while exploiting it and using it as a shelter.”  From among the civilians.

Then it was Friday.

AP did a deep dive into the casualty numbers since Israel entered Gaza in October, noting that Hamas put out daily death tolls – which were religiously reported by mainstream media and by AP itself – but those numbers were “provided without supporting data. In February, ministry officials said 75% of the dead were women and children – a level that was never confirmed in the detailed reports. And as recently as March, the ministry’s daily reports claimed that 72% of the dead were women and children, even as underlying data clearly showed the percentage was well below that.

Then it was Saturday and the raid on Nuseirat made more sense.

In Nuseirat, four hostages were rescued by IDF commandos in a daring raid reminiscent of Entebbe – and sadly, as at Entebbe, the commander of that raid gave his life for the civilian prisoners. But happily, hostage one hostage reached her mother, who was nearing her end. But sadly, another hostage’s father passed only hours before his son reached home.

There were cheers on a Tel Aviv beach as the news was broadcast. There were notes left on the Western Wall to inform religious Jews who would not have heard the radio on the Sabbath.

For a few hours, Israelis believed something good had happened amid the ongoing evil of Hamas.

Then it was Sunday.

There had been Palestinian casualties on Saturday as well as on Thursday. The New York Times ran the headline: Israel’s Euphoria Over Hostage Rescue May be Fleeting, which is ironic, given the euphoria of Hamas ghouls captured on video as they murdered their way through the Negev on 10/7.

Israelis do not engage in “euphoria” over dead Palestinians.

But the shift was on. Newspapers were filled with stories about Palestinian civilians with hardly a mention of either Israeli hostages or Hamas (see The Washington Post and CNN). European Union (EU) High Representative Josip Borrell called it “another civilian massacre.”

Claiming more than 270 Palestinian fatalities, The Quds Network produced a list of “victims” totaling 97 people.  But then it gets interesting again. A ChatGPT analysis of the names released indicated 76 males and 21 females: consistent with careful-as-possible targeting combatants.

Data analyst Mark Zlochin posted on X. “Here is another way to look at it: Out of the 97 released names 76 are males and 21 are females, meaning that over half of those named fatalities are likely Hamas militants. So instead of the demagogic, “Over 200 Palestinian civilians killed to release 4 hostages,” the more accurate description would be: “Around 40-45 civilians were killed in a crossfire during an operation, in which 4 hostages were released and over 50 Hamas militants eliminated” [He was being kind to say that only half the adult males were Hamas.]

Then it was Monday.

Focus shifted again – this time to Israel’s political situation, which, according to some major media outlets, is the reason there is no “ceasefire” with Hamas. So, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is landing in Israel to try to find a ceasefire that Hamas will accept.

The best way to parse all of this is to go back to the beginning: rape, murder, torture and hostage-taking are war crimes. Burying your military assets and fighters under your own civilian population is a war crime. It also removes human rights law protections from mosques, schools and hospitals. Stealing food aid meant for your own civilian population is disgusting, if not a war crime.

If concern for Palestinian civilians as well as Israeli civilians matters, the best way to end this war for all involved is to defeat Hamas. That works.