Exclusive: Hamas Frees 58 Hostages Held Since October 7

Ceasefire extension? Last week, Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day ceasefire and a deal in which Hamas would release 50 of the hostages taked October 7 in exchange for 150 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons.

Since then, 39 of those 50 hostages have been freed, and 117 Palestinian prisoners—all women or people 18 and under—have been returned to Gaza.

Separate negotiations have yielded the release of 19 additional Hamas hostages, including 17 Thais, one Filipino, and one Russian-Israeli. That brings the total count of freed October 7 hostages to 58.

The very last round of releases was supposed to happen today, but Qatari negotiators say it is likely to be held up. A not-insignificant number of hostages are apparently being held by separate terrorist groups, making it hard for Hamas to locate the remainder of the captives.

In addition to Hamas’ struggles with locating these prisoners, other problems are holding up the final release and casting doubt on the idea that an extension is possible. “Israel and Hamas each signaled a willingness over the weekend to prolong their truce if it allowed for more hostages and Palestinian detainees to be freed,” reports The New York Times. “But both sides have taken issue with the names presented by the other for the final day of exchanges under the deal.”

Prisoners held by Israel: When the terms of the deal were first released last week, many observers in the West reacted with some surprise at the idea that Israel was holding hundreds of Palestinian woman and children in prisons. Now, there’s a media criticism story playing out concurrently, with Israel supporters accusing some publications of sugarcoating the crimes of some of the Palestinian prisoners.

Take, for example, Israa Jaabees, who The New York Times describes as a “disfigured woman whose case has become well known” who was “accused of attempted murder” after “her car exploded at a checkpoint near Jerusalem in the West Bank.” Note the passive voice, and the “accused” (with no mention of a conviction).

Israeli authorities say that she detonated a car bomb in an act of terrorism at a checkpoint near Israeli police, permanently disabling one officer. Her lawyer says this was a case of attempted suicide-by-cop, not terrorism, though Israeli authorities also claim that she had expressed support for “martyrs” and yelled “Allahu Akbar” as this was all happening. She was convicted in court and spent the next eight years in Israeli prison, petitioning the Israeli authorities to pay for her facial reconstruction surgery, which they rejected. (The gall!)

This seeming inability to tell the full story has led to lots of criticism of the media.

There are surely cases where the offense was nowhere near as bad as this, or where overly broad crackdowns on incitement ended up imprisoning Palestinians for mere acts of speech. Still, reporters do themselves no favors when they neglect to mention the most damning parts of Jaabees’ record. Similarly, the “children” held in Israeli prisons are not 4-year-olds—the age of some of the hostages that Hamas took—but 16- and 17-year-olds, many of them convicted of violent terrorist activities.


Scenes from New York

Activists from Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-Zionist group, shut down the Manhattan Bridge for several hours yesterday, blocking cars from getting across on the Manhattan side. 

It’s unclear to me how these street shutdowns actually achieve the desired goal.


QUICK HITS

  • “Should people have the right to say awful things without facing legal consequences?” asks Jay Caspian Kang in The New Yorker. (Yes. Next question.)
  • Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of killing George Floyd, was stabbed in prison on Friday.
  • Chinese state propaganda refers to working women above the age of 27, who are unmarried and do not have kids, as “leftover women.” Here is a fascinating read about how they’re charting their own paths, and how the state is struggling to reverse its baby bust.
  • Three Palestinian-American men were shot in Vermont over the weekend in what is being investigated as a hate crime.
  • Come out to tonight’s screening of (Reason producer and my Livestream co-host) Zach Weissmueller’s new bitcoin mining documentary.
  • Surely a prominent Democrat like Kamala Harris hasn’t been caught redhanded with an illicit gas stove:
  • Under no circumstances does the FTC need to be investigating whether a shitty-sandwich-shop monopoly is being created:
  • A “61 year old US-born doctor has his citizenship revoked after trying to renew his passport,” writes Alex Nowrasteh on Twitter/X. “Why? His dad worked at the embassy when he was born, but he was still granted citizenship. There should be a statute of limitations for revoking citizenship in these cases.”
  • This: