CNN

Fate of American hostages up in the air with little prospect of stalled hostage talks resuming soon

Dec 4, 2023, 3:25 PM

Families and friends of hostages held in Gaza call for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to...

(CNN) — The negotiations over the release of additional hostages from Gaza that broke down early Friday appear highly unlikely to resume any time soon, multiple senior administration officials told CNN, leaving the fate of multiple Americans believed to have been taken captive by Hamas up in the air.

The White House has said there is one American woman and seven men unaccounted for following Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel. So far, four Americans have been released since the start of the war. All are believed to be dual Israeli-American citizens.

The talks have stalled, and there does not appear to be any real prospects of those discussions starting back up any time soon, according to multiple senior administration officials.

The major reason for the impasse remained unchanged as of Monday, according to one senior administration official: Hamas is refusing to release a remaining group of young women hostages, and Israel will not accept the suggestion of moving on to discuss the next category of hostages: Men.

It also appears unlikely that the administration would be able to negotiate separately for the release of Americans citizens – similar to what the Thai and Russian governments did for hostages from those nations. There is no reason to think that Hamas would do the US any “special favor” in that manner, said a second senior administration official, who all but dismissed that possibility.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday the US is doing “everything in our power” to get hostages released from Hamas.

Despite the formal talks in Doha, Qatar, breaking down, Sullivan told CNN that there are still “intensive discussions” between the US, Israel, Qatar and Egypt about “how to best get traction on a strategy that will get all the hostages out – but of course, for the United States, the paramount priority is getting the American hostages out.”

On whether the White House is contemplating a potential separate deal aimed at securing the release of dual American citizens, Sullivan said, “We are talking to the president about all of his options in terms of securing the release of American hostages.” But he declined to comment further, citing “sensitive diplomatic discussions behind closed doors.”

Israel recalled its negotiators from Qatar – which was helping facilitate talks between Israel and Hamas – on Saturday, blaming Hamas for failing to “fulfill its part of the agreement, which included the return of all women and children held hostage.” In a statement after negotiations ended, Hamas held Israel and the United States responsible for ending the dialogue.

With fighting having resumed in the war, it remains unclear what – if anything – could bring back a cessation in hostilities and revive hostage talks.

The Israel Defense Forces said it carried out more than 400 strikes in the first 24 hours of renewed fighting Friday and, on Sunday, announced it was expanding ground operations to all of Gaza. More than 15,800 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza since October 7, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the enclave.

As CNN has previously reported, Israeli and US officials believe that Hamas is refusing to release a number of women in the 20- to 30-year-old age range, many of them taken from the Nova music festival, claiming that those women are considered soldiers. That refusal, one official said, is “totally unacceptable” given that there have been “credible allegations of sexual violence linked to Hamas and the October 7 atrocities.”

State Department spokesman Matt Miller said Monday that one of the reasons Hamas does not want to release women being held hostage seems to be because “they don’t want those women to be able to talk about what happened to them during their time in custody.” However, he said he could not “speak with a definitive assessment” that this was a reason Hamas was not releasing some hostages.

Israeli police are documenting cases of rape perpetrated against women and girls by members of Hamas as the militant group attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 Israelis taking more than 240 hostages.

“We’ve obviously seen the reports that Hamas has committed sexual violence, they’ve committed rape, we have no reason at all to doubt those reports,” Miller said, adding later, “certainly there is very little that I would put beyond Hamas when it comes to its treatment of civilians, in particular its treatment of women.”

As part of a deal that rose out of painstaking negotiations with the help of foreign mediation last month, Hamas released 105 hostages over the seven days of truce, primarily women and children. Israel in return released 240 Palestinians – or about three for every woman and child held in Gaza – also primarily women and children, many of whom were detained in Israel but never charged.

The Israel Defense Forces said Friday that there are 136 hostages still being held in Gaza, including 17 women and children. It is unclear how many of those are being held by Hamas as opposed to other militant groups that operate in the territory.

KSL 5 TV Live

CNN

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night ...

Eric Bradner and Daniel Strauss, CNN

Trump wins all delegates at stake in Michigan GOP convention amid leadership battle

Former President Donald Trump won all 39 delegates at stake at a Michigan Republican convention Saturday, as officials there sought to move past a leadership battle that has split the state party into rival factions.

9 hours ago

A killer whale known as Starboard preys on a great white shark in June off the South African coast,...

 Katie Hunt, CNN

A lone orca slayed a great white in less than two minutes. Scientists say it could signal an ecological shift

A pair of orcas have been killing great whites along a stretch of South African coastline.

1 day ago

Kevin Monahan was convicted of second-degree murder, among other charges..
Mandatory Credit:	Lori V...

Ray Sanchez, CNN

New York man sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for killing woman when car turned in wrong driveway

Kevin Monahan was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for shooting and killing a woman who was a passenger in a car that turned in the wrong driveway.

2 days ago

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced February 29 that Heritage Store Hydrogen Peroxide ...

John Towfighi, CNN

Mouthwash recalled nationwide over poisoning risk

One brand of hydrogen peroxide mouthwash is being recalled nationwide for posing a potential poisoning risk for children.

2 days ago

Protesters gathered outside the Alabama State House in Montgomery in the wake of the IVF ruling on ...

Devon M. Sayers, Shirin Faqiri and Eric Levenson, CNN

Alabama House and Senate approve bills aimed at protecting in vitro fertilization after personhood ruling

The Alabama House and Senate each passed bills Thursday aimed at protecting in vitro fertilization treatments .

3 days ago

Oprah Winfrey...

Jordan Valinsky, CNN

Oprah is leaving WeightWatchers, sending stock tumbling

Oprah Winfrey is leaving the board of WeightWatchers, ending a nearly decade-long stint as a director of the beleaguered company that has faced sudden competition from Ozempic.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Fate of American hostages up in the air with little prospect of stalled hostage talks resuming soon