(Hamas military spokesman Abu Obeida. Times of Israel, 16th October 2023)
“About the peaceful citizens that were taken and that are now in Gaza, we treat them as guests.” “The civilians were taken as “a result of chaos.”
(Hamas representative Moussa Abu Marzook. Al-Arabiya News, 28th October 2023)
The horrific and violent assault that was conducted by the terrorist group Hamas against Israelis on the 7th October 1973 was undeniably an atrocity that the Israeli’s and the world would not forget. The world reeled at the fierce, brutal and cruel manner that the terrorists went about their carnage on many innocent lives. Hamas kidnapped over 200 people from approximately 22 countries including children as young as ten months old. Numbers still vary.
Murdering approximately 1400 people and some in an unimaginable way was not enough. Hamas took hostages. Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri spoke to Al Jazeera and confirmed the group had a large number of Israeli captives – at the time Hamas did not give any numbers but said, there were enough to secure the release of all Palestinians prisoners. They would be used as bargaining chips at a later date.
This was not the first time that Israel had faced a serious hostage crisis in its history.
Previous Israeli Hostage Crisis’s
In 1972 at the Munich Olympic games the Palestinian terrorist group Black September disguised as athletes forced their way into the Israeli Olympic living area and after murdering two Israeli athletes took another nine hostage. They demanded the release of 234 Palestinian prisoners who were being held in Israeli jails, plus the West German–imprisoned founders of the Red Army Faction, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof. The operation to secure the hostages release did not go well resulting in the death of all the hostages. Five terrorists were killed and the three remaining Black September terrorists were captured.
In October 1972 sympathizers of the Black September Organization hijacked a Lufthansa flight. Their aim was to secure the release of the three terrorists captured after the Munich Olympic rescue disaster by threatening to blow the aircraft up if they were not set free. The terrorists were flown to Zagreb Airport and eventually on to Tripoli where they were released.
The Israeli governments response to the deaths of their athletes was to send teams to track down and kill those who were involved in the terrorist murders of the Israel athletes. The campaign was known as Operation Wrath of God or Mivtza Za'am Ha'El.
The Entebbe Raid. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – External Operations (PFLP-EO) and two Germans from the German Revolutionary Cells hijacked Air France Flight 139 on the 27th June 1976. The aircraft eventually ended up at Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport where the hijackers enjoyed support from the then president and dictator Idi Amin. The aircraft passengers consisted of mainly Jewish and Israeli a total of 242 people on board, excluding aircrew and cabin staff. The terrorist’s demands stated their objective were the release of 40 Palestinian and affiliated militants imprisoned in Israel as well as the release of 13 prisoners in four other countries.
Non-Israeli hostages were released with 148 flown to Paris leaving ninety-four Israeli hostages left and twelve aircrew. The Israeli government instructed the military to release the hostages and a rescue operation was put in place. Israeli soldiers and aircraft were flown to Entebbe on the 4th July 1976 and successfully rescued 102 of the hostages with three being killed. Another had been was murdered (Dora Bloch, 74) in a hospital in Kampala.
The current Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, older brother Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu was killed in the raid. Seven hijackers who were present died during the operation. The rescue raid was a success.
7th October 2023 Israeli Hostage Nightmare
Hamas has its own guide for kidnapping and hostage taking. The guide is broken down into nine main headings, some, if not all maybe experienced:
1. The collection stages
2. Confinement and control within the location and its vicinity
5. Camouflage and hiding
9. Emergency situations
Those who had been taken (Collection Stage) would have suffered from what is known as “shock of capture.” A sudden and aggressive change after a huge traumatic event. Those that had been taken would be at their most vulnerable during this stage. Their mind would not have a chance to put up any defence’s and they would be in a state of shock. These first reactions to their capture would soon fade. This could take minutes or it could take a few hours, it depends on the individual and the type of environment they are in. Let us also bear in mind that there is a vast age difference within the hostages.
The first phase any kidnapped victim has to endure is the initial capture. This would include rough handling, beating with fists or a weapon, and a blindfold or hood placed over the head to disorientate and block out some of their senses. Once in a safe area for the kidnappers, the victims would undergo a quick search to remove all of their possessions, most of which would be stolen. (Safety)
Yocheved Lifshitz, aged 85 who was later released described the ordeal. “They killed and kidnapped both old and young with no distinction.” She was tied to a motorcycle and driven to Gaza. “As we rode, the motorcycle rider hit me with a wooden pole. They didn’t break my ribs, but it hurt me a lot in that area, making it difficult to breathe. They stole my watch and jewellery.”
She was held at Abasan al-Kabira, near Be’eri kibbutz, and at another location she could not identify. “Eventually, we went underground and walked for kilometres in wet tunnels, for two or three hours in a spider web of tunnels. We reached a large hall. We were a group of 25 people, and they separated us according to which kibbutz we were from.” After that, I don’t know where I was taken.” (A feeling of disorientation).
Guards fed the prisoners the same type of food they ate. A doctor visited daily and provided medication and treatment, including for a hostage injured in a motorbike crash, she said. “They were very concerned with hygiene and were worried about an outbreak of something. We had toilets which they cleaned every day.”
Israeli Hostage Trauma
The initial reaction of the new hostage would be confusion because of the sudden impact and unexpected violent nature as to what had just occurred, along with uncertainty as to what happens next. At some point, they would feel anger for allowing themselves to be placed in a vulnerable position. They would be in disbelief at what was happening to them. This falls under the category of “shock of capture” and “dislocation of expectations” (it will never happen to me). All victims will undergo the same or similar feelings.
Once the captive is in their new location, one that may be temporary, they would start to be subjected to two types of pressure. One is “self-induced pressure” and the other would be “system induced pressure.” Both types will bring on mental demands and the slow realization that the desolation will start to take effect.
John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said that “no one knew, where they (the hostages) are and in what condition.” Kirby also said, “the White House does not know if they are being kept together, and whether they are being moved around.” This would have been a lesson Iran learned after the 1979 revolution and American hostages were held against their will for 444 days. When they were first captured, they were held in one location. President Carter authorized the American military to rescue the hostages in an operation known as “Operation Eagle Claw.” Regretfully, the operation failed but Iran realized the vulnerability of hostage rescue and moved the hostages so that they were held in smaller groups at different locations. Hamas would have been advised to not hold everyone at the same location.
Self-induced pressures are feelings that are brought on by the hostage; their own thoughts feelings and actions. They will go through fear of the unknown. Fear of being killed: Will anyone know they have been taken? Fear of the environment such as hearing doors banging, keys jangling as the prisoner will be wondering if it is their turn to be killed, tortured or beaten.
There will be thoughts of escape but, if captured with others, there will be fear of retribution against those who remain behind. A difficult decision to make and, if those who are with them are close friends, it makes matters worse. Later, if held in captivity for a long period with other prisoners, those feeling will also exist. If the hostages were or are being kept underground then this is an option unlikely to happen.
If they are a leader or military, then feelings of failure and/or guilt will start to gnaw at them the leader that had led them into that situation in the first place. Although they may not realize it, the chances are that in a lot of cases the operation to kidnap someone has been pre-planned as was the case on the 7th October. They would feel guilty about any mistakes they had made. It would not matter how small or large they seemed, the leader or a single individual would analyse every move that had put them into that situation.
There would be mistrust, boredom and loneliness, which play major psychological roles. Depression and despair would set in very quickly as they would not be in control of any of their actions. The captors would ensure that. A need for constant alertness would add to the captive’s distress, as they would attempt to stay one step in front of their captors.
System induced pressures are those that are placed upon a captive by their kidnappers. They would ensure that the captive underwent severe discipline and would be punished for the slightest thing. This would be part of a conditioning phase, so the captive becomes reliant on those who are holding them prisoner.
Their diet would be small and disgusting and, if lucky, be fed on scraps. The guards would get the better food and whatever was left, if any, would be fed to the prisoner. The effect would be starvation and illness, which would break down the will of the captive and also result in draconian weight loss.
Within the Gaza Strip where everything has been cut off then it would be safe to imagine that food and drink would be rationed. Hamas, although stated that they have thought of every eventuality it’s doubtful that they would have stored sufficient food and water as no one would have known how long the captivity of the Hamas hostages would be. When Hamas planned and executed the attack on Israel, they would have known that there would have been a humanitarian problem.
Confinement and enforced idleness would play a huge psychological factor, coupled with everything else that would leave the prisoner feeling as though they are losing the will to live. They would suffer from lack of sleep due to hunger pains and damp conditions, desolation and torment of the mind — having no news of the outside world and no knowledge of what is being done to secure their release.
A very sensitive issue is rape, both male and female. Female captives have a tendency to accept that this will happen to them, but males do not give it a second thought but in this day and age it is more than a possibility. If held in a collective group, it is not the act that tends to upset the unfortunate victim but how they are treated by fellow prisoners when they return. There would be no hostage/captor bonding, as the terrorists would treat their prisoner like an animal, which detracts them from being looked upon as human beings.
There would be pressure on the captors, especially if they keep up with the press. With the sound of bombs being dropped by aircraft or being fired by Israeli artillery even deep underground the sound would be heard and if close the vibrations would be felt from the detonation on impact. The captures would be in a similar position to their hostages. Not knowing if they will be killed by shells or bombs or found, killed or captured by Israeli soldiers at some point. The problem with this type of hostage taker is that should there be an attempt to rescue them there is no guaranteed good outcome. If the kidnappers are threatened, it is feasible that they may kill hostages prior to fleeing.
It is possible that phases of the Stockholm Syndrome may occur. There are a few factors necessary for this bond to develop to your advantage.
· Hostages and captors are held together.
· Both captors and hostages share the same conditions.
· Must not outwardly disagree with the captor’s viewpoints.
· Share a common Bond.
For this to happen the hostage must:
· Pretend to like their captors. No matter what you actually feel towards them, you must show that you want to be their friend. You must overtly go about trying to befriend them. You must build up some kind of rapport with them.
· Encourage your captors to like you. Use your friendliness to get them to like you as well. Make it a two-way thing.
Hostages are often asked to make a video or talk on the radio, this can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand it shows that the hostage is still alive at the time of recording but it can also be used for propaganda purposes.
Hamas aired the first video of captives on the 16th October 2023. It was a female showing footage of her receiving treatment for an arm injury. This was 10 days after the attack on Israel so Israeli authorities would have been unsure when the injury had happened. The woman spoke Hebrew and said that she was from central Israel and appeals for her release. The video would have been reassurance to the family for up to that point she was alive.
The hostage was later identified as 21-year-old, Mia Schem. She told the camera that she was operated on for three hours and that “I’m being cared for, I’m getting medications. I’m only asking to be returned home as soon as possible, to my family, to my parents, to my siblings. Please get me out of here as soon as possible.” It was thought she had been singled out because she was a dual French-Israeli citizen. This would put pressure on the French and Israeli governments to stop the war against Hamas so that the hostages could be set free.
Hamas was also keen to show the world that it had a humanitarian side to it. This would have been an attempt to counter the horrific murders from the 7th October 2023.
The next video to be aired was on the 30th October 2023 after the Israeli military had now gone into the Gaza Strip on what appeared to be a its next phase of grappling with Hamas. The video clip was approximately 76 seconds long and titled, “Zionist detainees.” Zionists is a term that the Islamic Republic of Iran uses constantly when talking about Israel or Israeli’s.
At first it was difficult to identify the three females in the clip. Sitting on plastic chairs against a white tile wall, one of the women urges Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree a prisoner exchange for the release of all captives. Speaking in Hebrew, she becomes very agitated and starts shouting, almost screaming by the end, as the other two sitting either side of her remain silent.
Later the three females were identified as Yelena Trupanob, Danielle Aloni and Rimon Kirsht. Aloni was identified as the speaker. Aloni addressing an angry message to the Israeli prime minister. Accusing Netanyahu of failing to protect Israeli citizens during the deadly Hamas attack and failing to get them back home, she called for an agreement to secure their release in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.
“You were supposed to free all of us. You committed to free us all. But instead, we are carrying your political, security, military, diplomatic failure,” she said. This statement would have worked well for Hamas propaganda causes attempting to put pressure on the Israeli prime minister and would once again reassure the families of the ladies that at the time of recording they were still alive. There were most likely have been key words that she would have been coerced into saying. All it takes is one disgruntled hostage and they would be easily led into either making a confession or encouraged to rant on film for those who are holding them.
Propaganda is based on lies and disinformation. Hamas and the Islamic Republic of Iran have and are known to utilize propaganda as a means to shape public opinion and advance their political agendas. Propaganda by Hamas is primarily by use of foreign media which is an important tool in its arsenal as they will report anything and everything giving Hamas a huge beneficial leverage. Manipulating the press and media works well for Hamas’s as the world forgets about the atrocities that they caused which started this conflict and concentrates on the plight of the Palestinians which they would include Hamas in.
Their hate for Israel and by use of cruel psychological propaganda attempting to influence any population to apply pressure on governments to instruct Israel to hold a ceasefire and release hostages. This would be seen in the ‘Days of Rage’ that Hamas and Iran are encouraging around the globe. Hamas would gain a reward of having Israel agree to a ceasefire. Two current examples are:
On the 13th October 2003 Hamas said that thirteen hostages had been killed blaming their deaths on strikes on Gaza. Referring to claims that hostages have been killed in Israeli strikes, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said “There are many statements from Hamas, we will only report reliable information.”
On the 26th October 2023 Hamas announced that Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed almost 50 of the hostages its militants seized in bloody cross-border attacks. The claim, like the other cannot be verified but Hamas military wing “Al-Qassam Brigades estimates that the number of Zionist prisoners who were killed in the Gaza Strip as a result of Zionist strikes and massacres has reached almost 50”
Fars News (managed by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)) released news that two hostages had been released. Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie Raanan who were taken illegally were both American. Fars News claimed that Hamas had released them “for humanitarian reasons.” Heir release was put down too many days of talks between the Qatari government and Hamas. The choice of American may be put down to the United States bringing in more military assets into the Region.
The Israeli’s along with other nationalities are not the only ones being held hostage and risk being killed. Although the scenario is different, the ordinary Palestinian citizens were being held at gunpoint by the very people they had elected to govern them.
On the 13th October 2023 the German Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said that “Hamas has taken the entire population of Gaza hostage.” She was correct as reports came out of Hamas stopping people from leaving the city which were published in open-source news outlets. In some cases Hamas placed large vehicles and cars across roads to stop Palestinians from leaving. Reuters on the 13th October 2023 reported, “Mosques broadcast messages telling Gaza Strip residents to stay put on Friday (13 Oct 23), in defiance of an Israeli military call for more than a million civilians to move south within 24 hours in the build-up to its expected ground offensive.” IDF spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said: 'Hamas is actively preventing civilians from leaving to go to the south.
The Israeli Defence Force had warned those Palestinians, not Hamas, who lived in the north of the Gaza Strip to move south where it was safer. Hamas’s response was shocking. In response, Hamas told residents to stay in their homes: “Do not follow the propaganda evacuation instructions.” The group is known to try and force residents to ignore such notices given by the military. IDF spokesman Admiral Hagari said Hamas was responsible for any harm to civilians who do not evacuate. He added, “The Palestinian civilians in Gaza are not our enemies.” “We don’t assess them as such, and we don’t target them as such. We are trying to do the right thing.”
The Israeli Defence Force has accused Hamas of using its own people as human shields to prevent Israeli forces from attacking areas where Hamas operates in its attack on Israel.
Russia and Hamas
Russia has been hosting high-ranking members of Hamas in Moscow and has defended its decision to do so, saying it is important to maintain ties with both sides in the Israel-Hamas conflict. The article also states that Russia has become a close ally of Iran and has ties to Hamas, but there is no evidence of Moscow’s direct involvement in Hamas’s attack on Israel.
According to Al Jazeera, Putin may be interested in the new conflict between Israel and Hamas spreading all over the Middle East, distracting the West and undermining aid to Ukraine.
Currently there is a small glitch in the relationship between Hamas and Russia. Hostages, in particular Russian hostages held by Hamas.
Hamas’s master, the Islamic Republic of Iran, arrested a Russian journalist Yulia Yuzikon on the 4th October 2019 and was charged with cooperating with Israeli intelligence. Russia's foreign ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador regarding Yuzik's detention. Russian journalist Yulia Yuzik, was not charged with spying and was changed to a visa violation and her case was placed under a “quick review” it was announced on the 7th October 2019 three days later.
Then six days after her arrest she was freed by the Iranian authorities. “As a result of joint efforts of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in Tehran, the Iranian side made a decision on the release of Russian citizen Yulia Yuzik.,” it was announced. Iran and Russia have had close relations since the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011, as they both heavily support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A delegation from Hamas led by Hamas' international relations chief Moussa Abu Marzouk visited Moscow on the 26th October 2023 for talks on the release of foreign hostages including Russian citizens from the enclave. The Russian Embassy reportedly said that 16 Russian citizens were killed as a result of Hamas' attack on Israel, while another eight are missing. Iran also had a representative Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani who was also visiting. Hamas officials in Moscow said they viewed all their hostages as Israelis.
Al-Arabiya News wrote on the 28th October 2023 that “Hamas is trying to locate eight Russian-Israeli dual citizens among nearly 230 taken hostage during the Palestinian militants’ attack on Israel after Moscow’s request to free them, Russian news agencies reported Saturday.”
It also reported, “From the Russian side, via the foreign ministry, we received a list of citizens that have dual citizenship,” senior Hamas representative Moussa Abu Marzook was cited as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency. “We are looking for those people... It is hard but we are looking. And when we find them, we will let them go.” “We are very attentive to this list and will process it carefully because we consider Russia to be a closest friend,” he said.” Not all hostages are classified as Israeli then!
Prisoner exchange. The last Israeli prisoner to be exchanged was Gilad Shalit who on the 25th June 2006, was captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid using tunnels under the Israeli border. Hamas held him captive for over five years until his release on 18th October 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal. The deal would see the release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in a staggered move over a period of months. Palestinian prisoners, including, Hamas said, more than 300 serving life terms for violent attacks, stoking security concerns in Israel. The release of 6,000 Palestinian prisoners for those captured on the 7th October 2023 would mean that they would probably re-enter the Hamas terrorist network and the whole war process would probably start all over again in the future.
Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, spokesman Abu Obeida, on the 9th October 2023 said that they would kill a civilian hostage every time Israel’s military hit Gaza without warning. A clear threat to have the Israeli’s stop their bombardment of the city. “We announce that every targeting of our people who are safe in their homes without warning, we will regretfully meet with the execution of our enemy’s civilian hostages,” Obeida said.
Then in the Tehran Times (which claims it is not a state-owned newspaper, rather it must be the voice of the oppressed people in the world), stated that “an official belonging to Hamas told British media that the Israeli hostages taken by the group were being treated in a “humane way,” and they would not be harmed.
Hamas clearly knew what it was doing on the 7th October 2023 when it entered Israel. It was to kill and capture with no thought as to who it would be but with the intent of causing as much disruption as possible. Their aim to take hostages of different genders and ages was to have them used as human shields, for bargaining purposes possibly to have a ceasefire when things became a little rough for Hamas and they saw themselves as being on the losing side, propaganda and/or the release of some 6,000 prisoners held in Israeli jails. It maybe for all those reasons cited. The thought of releasing a further six thousand Hamas terrorists would not be a path the Israelis would want to follow. Whatever the reason for their capture this has certainly plunged the Israelis and their government into an even worse hostage scenario than that of Munich or Entebbe. As the hostage situation unfolds more regarding those kidnapped will no doubt be released. If it is true that those that have allegedly been killed by Israeli military action then hopefully when they recover the deceased a post-mortem will tell its own story. But for now, the world waits because that is what the hostage game is. Attempting to gain the upper hand or seeing what can be achieved without more loss of life.
Paul Ashley (31 Oct 23)