How Do You Negotiate A Hostage Release In The Israel-Hamas Conflict

More than 200 people were taken hostage by Hamas militants when the group staged a surprise attack on Israel on October 7.

According to IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the number of hostages was “unimaginable”, with Israeli civilians, soldiers, foreigners and even a 9-month-old baby caught in the attack.

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On October 16, Hamas released its first video of a hostage, Israeli-French citizen Mia Schem. Ms Schem was captured by the Hamas group while attending the music festival where over 260 people were killed by terrorists.

So far, five of those being held captive have been freed since the attack. The United Nations and human rights groups have also called for further immediate release. 

On today’s episode of The Briefing, host Tom Tilley took a deep dive with Nizar Zakka to share his personal experience of being taken hostage in Iran for almost four years since 2015.

“It’s a very unique case that never happened, I believe in recent history, never anything like that happened,” Mr Zakka said.

The hostages were seized from home, as well as from military bases and an enormous outdoor dance party.

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“We have hostages from 32 nations. It’s the largest hostage gathering ever,” he said.

He said the significant number of hostages and the complexity of the conflict is “completely unprecedented to any other hostage situation”.

On Friday last week, Hamas released two captives, an American-Israeli mother and daughter, raising hopes about the effectiveness of hostage negotiations.

However, Mr Zakka said more actions were needed. “In order to release the hostages, we need to do it really quickly and swiftly. Otherwise, it’s going to take a long time.” 

The Biden administration has advised Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza, hoping to buy time for such talks and to allow more humanitarian aid to reach the sealed-off enclave.

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