US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported that Hamas has been offered clemency for the release of hostages.
It is thought that the militant group is holding around 240 hostages. Israel, whose military claims it has encircled Gaza City, was ready to continue its bombardment on Hamas despite demands for a truce or brief pauses.
US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported on Substack that the political leadership of Hamas has been offered “clemency” in exchange for the release of the hostages held in Gaza during covert negotiations with Israel.
The journalist was informed by sources that the offer was made to the political wing of the group, who maintain they were not directly involved in the preparations for the October 7 Hamas attack.
“The thought was that if they agree to try their own people and order them executed, they will be given their lives while also exonerating Israel for the war,” an American official was quoted as saying.
The journalist stated that the Israeli military and political leadership are under orders to “shoot to kill on sight” while they pursue Hamas military men “in the tunnels and rubble of Gaza City.” Simultaneously, Israel has devised a means for the Hamas senior leaders to “save their own lives by arranging for Israeli hostages to be transferred to a basement in the besieged al-Shifa hospital,” in response to the situation surrounding the remaining hostages in Gaza.
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The greatest medical facility in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli military, is a Hamas stronghold. It previously made public 3D-rendered film purportedly displaying the size of a Hamas headquarters located beneath the Al-Shifa Hospital.
The statement signed by the UN’s 18 principals reported that 88 UN officials were killed in Gaza by Israel.
Because they don’t know “how long the air in the tunnels will be breathable,” some Israeli officials “fear that time is running out,” the journalist reported. They also expressed hope that the Israeli hostages might be transferred to “safer, drier, and healthier quarters below ground in Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital.” Hersh said, “I was informed that food and water would be available.”
“We’re holding out clemency for the Hamas political leadership – giving them a chance to surrender the hostages and cling to life by moving them to the hospital,” a source told the Pulitzer Prize-winner.
According to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), the besieged enclave of Gaza City has been divided into two and is now in a “significant stage” of Israel’s campaign against Hamas. It boasted of its impending operation to blow up the tunnels and the institutions of Hamas, both military and civilian. Simultaneously, it is estimated that over 248 soldiers and civilians, including international nationals, are being held captive by terrorists.
“Thirty-one of the hostages are seventy years and older—one is said to be a Holocaust survivor, and two are infants, aged four months and eight months, with no mother or father, and twenty-three under eighteen years of age,” an Israeli was cited as telling Hersh. The source added that the International Committee of the Red Cross “has not been pressuring Hamas to grant them access to the hostages, although it did seek almost immediate access to the two hundred Hamas prisoners in Israeli custody.”
According to Sy Hersh, “a possible breakthrough” about the hostages “emerged in secret talks between Israel and Yahya Sinwar, a former Israeli prisoner who currently leads Hamas’ political wing.”
On October 28, Sinwar released a statement in which it stated:
“We are ready to conduct an immediate prisoner exchange deal that includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for all prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance.”
Israel has since told the head of Hamas and his associates that they must “release the Israeli hostages and agree to begin holding immediate war-crime tribunals” if they are to survive. The Israelis wanted to execute “those Hamas combat leaders who encouraged and then did nothing to stop the war crimes of their fighters,” Sy Hersh emphasised.
Israel’s retaliatory bombing of Gaza has drawn increasing international condemnation. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 10,022 people have died since October 7, including 2,641 women and 4,104 children. Thousands upon thousands of demonstrators have poured into the streets of Washington, London, Berlin, Rome, Santiago, and other cities, calling for an immediate end to hostilities. Many of them believe that Israel has committed a “war crime.”
Seymour Hersh noted an Israeli analyst with firsthand knowledge of the hostage discussions who insisted that Yahya Sinwar “could be open to a deal,” despite the fact that the “concept of an Israeli-initiated war-crimes tribunal amid a bombing campaign that has flattened much of Gaza may seem out of a bad novel.”
“He is a fanatic and an ascetic… Dedicated to the cause. No family, very religious but got very friendly with Shin Bet [Israeli internal security] guys while in prison and was seen as not irrational. He will want a chance to give service to the cause. He will be open to a door,” the expert said.
It was further stated that Sinwar would hold out for a deal “to include a commitment that Israel would not come after them if a deal is made,” along with a few Hamas officials who were “now in Qatar.”
Regarding the terrorists from Hamas holed up in the tunnels, there is a decreasing amount of fuel to run generators and pump air, which could eventually cause them to suffocate, according to reports.
Sy Hersh, quoting a US official who reiterated that “Hamas must begin to release the hostages,” claimed that “the more than two hundred miles of tunnels will inevitably become a death trap.”