News Release

Is Israel Killing U.S. Citizens by Refusing a Cease-fire?


RAED JARRAR,, @raedjarrar
Jarrar is advocacy director of DAWN, Democracy for the Arab World Now, the organization founded by the late Jamal Khashoggi.

He just wrote the piece “A Cease-fire Would Save Countless Lives in Gaza, Including Hostages,” which states: “Amid Israel’s relentless bombing campaign in Gaza is a crisis within a crisis: The presence of many hostages, including U.S. citizens, held captive in a war zone. According to the latest Israeli estimates, Hamas and other Palestinian groups are holding 199 captives following their attack last week into southern Israel. This figure includes both prisoners (soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces) and hostages (civilians, including children and the elderly).

“Hamas claims that Israeli airstrikes have already killed 22 hostages and prisoners in Gaza, including foreigners. News outlets have not independently verified those claims, and Israel has disputed them, calling them ‘lies’ by Hamas. Up to 14 U.S. citizens are among those held captive in Gaza, along with around 500 Palestinian-Americans living in the besieged strip. … A spokesperson for Hamas’ military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said in a video statement on Monday that it would release hostages holding foreign citizenship when ‘the opportunity arises on the ground.’ …

“Iran’s Foreign Ministry claimed Monday that Hamas was ‘ready’ to release its hostages if Israel ceased its airstrikes in Gaza. …

“More signs, then, point to the possibility that a cease-fire could expedite the release of these civilian hostages. The more complex task is a prisoner swap — exchanging captured IDF soldiers for Palestinians in Israeli jails. Hamas has indicated it wants to use the Israeli soldiers it is holding in a deal to free the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, of whom 1,123 are political prisoners held under Israel’s laws of ‘administrative detention’ without charge or trial. Among these prisoners, 160 are children under the age of 18. …

“What should be alarming for U.S. citizens is Israel’s controversial, so-called Hannibal Doctrine. This controversial protocol permits the use of lethal force while attempting to free captured Israeli soldiers, even if it risks the lives of hostages or prisoners of war in the vicinity. For American citizens among the hostages, this presents a clear and direct danger. Under this doctrine, the Israeli military can, theoretically, justify the killing of American hostages (and other civilians) in their efforts to free captured IDF soldiers. While this might align with Israeli military objectives, it blatantly disregards the safety and well-being of American citizens and other civilians who are caught in the conflict. The U.S. government should categorically reject the Israeli military’s Hannibal Doctrine when American lives are at stake.”