Israel's counteroffensive "Swords of Iron" stated goals included destroying Hamas, freeing the hostages and controlling the Gaza Strip (Wikipedia).

Hamas took around 250 hostages. According to Wikipedia, "as of January 7, 2024, 110 hostages were returned alive to Israel, with 105 being released in a prisoner exchange deal, 4 were released by Hamas unilaterally and 1 hostage was rescued by the IDF. 27 hostages were reportedly killed in Hamas captivity according to Israel." Hamas claimed that 60 hostages died due to the bombing of Gaza.

So far, hostages are more likely to be killed by the IDF than rescued by it. At the time of writing, it looks like the military operation failed on the goal of freeing the hostages so far, and time is certainly not on the hostages' side either. Is this acknowledged by the Israeli government, or do they still expect better results later?

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    You are missing the part, where 105 hostages were released in exchange. Which would not be possible, without a military action.
    – dEmigOd
    Jan 13 at 8:47
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    @dEmigOd why? at best the military action gives some leverage to Israel if Hamas is pressured to negotiate. But Hamas wanted to negotiate hostages for prisoners from the start anyway.
    – Erwan
    Jan 13 at 10:10
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    @NoDataDumpNoContribution if the method intended to reach a goal doesn't work, it makes sense to revise either the goal or the method.
    – Erwan
    Jan 13 at 10:13
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    Voting to close - As that is one of the publicly stated military goal of the IDF, the answer is yes. Whether there are other, higher priority goal(s) is/are unknown and a matter of speculation that is not suitable here.
    – sfxedit
    Jan 14 at 7:04
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    I am unsure what would answer your question. I assume that the well-being of the hostages is covered at length in the Israeli press, with some of that coverage holding the expectation of their recovery through the still-popular (I think) ground offensive. I know that the government's official position is that the offensive is meant to recover hostages. So who, with planning authority or knowledge, would go on the record to say it is not? What are you expecting as an answer? That there are other motivations? Of course there are. Jan 14 at 17:55

2 Answers 2


27 hostages were reportedly killed in Hamas captivity according to Israel." Hamas claimed that 60 hostages died due to the bombing of Gaza.

So far, hostages are more likely to be killed by the IDF than rescued by it.

The logic here is grounded in trusting Hamas statements, which many people would consider suspect, especially those in IDF. SO it is fair to assume that IDF continues to pursue its double goal: releasing hostages and eliminating Hamas as a threat to Israel (it would be nice to throw in liberating Palestinians from the Hamas oppression, but I am unaware of any Israeli politician making statements to this end.)

Note that Hamas rhetoric on hostages is sometimes outright contradictory - one the one hand, the hostages are supposed to have been killed by IDF several times over... on the other hand, Hamas still hopes for stopping IDF operation in exchange for hostages release (in negotiations via Qatar) and only yesterday accepted to deliver medical supplies to the hostages, as, e.g., reports BBC:
Medicine to be delivered to Gaza hostages under new agreement, says Israeli PM


It is incorrect to claim that the fighting in Gaza has a more detrimental impact on the hostages than it benefits them. It is important to note that the main demand in exchange for the release of the 105 hostages was the cessation of fighting for a few days. If Israel had not fighting and exerted significant pressure on Hamas, there would have been no chance for such a deal.

Just look at the price Israel paid for the release of Gilad Shalit - Israel released 1,027 convicted terrorists (including current Hamas leader Sinwar) in exchange for 1 single soldier. Israel doesn't have in its possesion 100k Palestinian terrorists to release for 100 hostages.

So, as a result of the IDF's operations in Gaza, 106 abductees were able to return home, not one

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    I'm confused: do you mean that if Israel had not been fighting, Hamas would not ask a cessation of fighting and would ask more instead?
    – Erwan
    Jan 14 at 10:19
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    Exactly. If Israel had not fighting, the price that Hamas would have demanded in exchange for the release of most of the children and some of the women would have been much higher, potentially unattainable. Jan 14 at 19:19
  • Hamas has a lower price for civilians than soldiers, though. Jan 15 at 23:41
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    @MathematicsStudent1122, I guess you never heard about Avera Mengistu, a disabled Ethiopian-Israel man being held hostage by Hamas since 2014.
    – Jacob3
    Jan 17 at 11:18
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    If Israel wanted its hostages back why didn't it just agree to Hamas's demand to trade Israeli hostages for Palestinian hostages? And if the military support made Hamas more willing to give up hostages, why did Israel get such a bad exchange rate anyway? Jan 18 at 7:04

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