Hamas is following a fiendishly “calculated” blueprint in its hostage release to try to curry global favor — and it likely doesn’t include freeing any Israeli soldiers without major quid pro quo, a top expert says.The move by the Palestinian terrorists to release an American mother and daughter first last week was probably designed to pressure the Biden administration into urging Israel to delay its planned scorched-earth ground invasion of the Gaza Strip to buy time in the hostage crisis, said former FBI agent and hostage-team expert Christopher O’Leary to The Post on Tuesday.Hamas’ release of another pair of women, two elderly Israelis, late Monday was also a “very calculated” move — this time to try and show the world that it is “a legitimate negotiator with some kind of humanitarian leaning,” O’Leary said – even though the terrorists brutalized women and children during their bloody invasion of Israel on Oct. 7.After former hostage Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, was released Monday, she revealed that she and a few of her fellow captives were separated from the main group into a smaller room in Hamas’ infamous “spiderweb” of Gaza tunnels.O’Leary said the move wasn’t surprising.“Hamas has [probably] bucketed the victims into different groups: women and children, people with medical conditions, dual nationals like Americans, Israeli civilians and Israeli military,” he said.“You don’t want soldiers mixed with civilians. Because the soldiers are going to be looking for an opportunity to break out or gather information, and they’re going to need more security on them,” he said.Lifschitz – who was beaten during capture but did not have any visible physical injuries when released – said the terrorists were “friendly in their own way” to the hostages she saw, making sure they had food and proper medical care.“Hamas looks at [hostages] as currency,” O’Leary explained. “Like a cattle farmer, they want to keep their herd healthy and well-looked-after. And they want to be able to conduct a transaction at some point.“But it’s not for any humanitarian reason,” he said.Both Lifschitz and her neighbor, 79-year-old Nurit Cooper, were released without their husbands, who remain in captivity in Gaza. O’Leary speculated that such civilian hostages “will be allowed to drip out over time” to delay the Gaza invasion and rehabilitate Hamas’ image.“They want to be considered a legit fighting force under the law of war,” O’Leary said of the terror group. But “if they are holding hostages, they are breaking the rules of war [from the 1979 International Convention against the Taking of Hostages].“Under the Geneva Convention, the taking of hostages during war is also considered a violation. It’s a war crime,” he said.But Hamas will not unilaterally release the soldier hostages, who are their most valuable bargaining chips, he said.“Hamas held one Israeli soldier hostage from 2006 to 2011 – and [the terrorists] were able to negotiate the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners,” O’Leary pointed out, referring to the prisoner exchange deal for Israeli Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.The controversial decision saw the release of several high-profile convicted terrorists – including multiple people who helped plan and execute the deadly August 2001 suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem.Using current IDF captives as leverage for the release of more imprisoned terrorists is part of Hamas’ larger goal, O’Leary said.Unfortunately, the number of hostages that Israeli and US authorities believe have been taken is likely higher than they’ve said, according to the expert.“I don’t think the Israeli number [of around 200 hostages] is completely accurate,” he said. “They are putting out what they can confirm, and they are not going to confirm someone is a hostage unless they have information that corroborates that.”O’Leary said Qatar will likely continue to play a major role in future negotiations.“They are doing it with no agenda of their own. They truly believe this is their role to help resolve conflicts [in the region],” he said.The four released hostages – Lifshitz and Cooper, as well as Judith and Natalie Raanan – have had intelligence debriefs to share whatever they learned during captivity.“They can possibly help illuminate what is going on,” O’Leary said.
24 Ekim 2023 - 23:45
Inside Hamas' fiendishly 'calculated' blueprint for hostage release — and who will be last on list
“Hamas looks at [hostages] as currency,” former FBI Agent Christopher O’Leary told The Post. “Like a cattle farmer, they want to keep their herd healthy and well-looked-afte…
24 Ekim 2023 - 23:45