Israeli officials have said that Hamas has taken at least 150 hostages from Israel since Hamas attacked the nation on Saturday. Coordinator for strategic communications at the U.S. National Security Council John Kirby told Scripps News on Monday that Americans could be among those held hostage.
Finding and freeing hostages will not be an easy task, Malcolm Nance, a former United States Navy senior chief petty officer, told Scripps News.
"I ran a military school on hostage survival and unfortunately, the most perilous time of any recovery, any attempt, is the actual attempt at rescue," Nance said. "But this is unconventional in the extreme. No one is going to be flying helicopters in and fast-roping and kicking down doors. What we're talking about is the Israeli army has to fight through a city with what could be thousands of terrorists, booby traps, entire buildings booby-trapped to explode and fall down on advancing soldiers and even the hostages."
Nance said rescuing hostages may come down to negotiations and not military operations.
"It's the horror that they want to be seen by the media in order to exert pressure from the families onto the Netanyahu government or the coalition government," Nance said. "And then try to use that to facilitate negotiation while combat operations are happening."
Nance noted that in the past, Israel released 1,000 prisoners to facilitate an exchange for an Israeli soldier. Those negotiations took years, Nance said.
The U.S. has vowed to provide assistance for Israel after Hamas attackers killed over 900 Israelis.
"We know that there are many that are unaccounted for," Kirby said. "We don't know what that means and we have to accept the very real possibility that some Americans are being held hostage by Hamas in addition to many other Israeli citizens that are being held hostage."
Among the U.S. support is several aircraft carriers being positioned in the Mediterranean Sea near Israel.
"The most the United States is going to be able to do right now is position itself so that there's not a general expansion of the war, to allow the Israeli army and the Israeli government to go in and carry out operations that it can," Nance said.
Rachel Meijler, aunt of Laor Abramov, a missing disc jockey in Israel, is among those searching for loved ones. Meijler told Scripps News she doesn't know if Abramov was among those killed or taken hostage.
The IDF said there have been 50 families notified that Hamas has taken a loved one.
"It's driving me nuts and you can only imagine his parents that are, that are in total despair," said Meijler. "They know nothing. They went to the morgues, they are going through the list. He's not on the list of the hostages. He's not on the list of the murdered people."
The Israel Defense Forces said that Hamas fighters are using hostages as human shields in order to slow Israel's retaliation. The IDF said Monday it has hit 2,400 targets in the Gaza Strip, including weapons storage and manufacturing sites.
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com