DANIEL VAUGHAN: Israeli Military Force Released The Hostages, Not Diplomacy
There's a misunderstanding happening in the Israel-Hamas war. We're finally getting the release of hostages, including a few Americans. Hopefully, this ends up with all the hostages being released. I say hopefully because this is a situation in flux, and you can never trust a terrorist organization to "keep their word."
The misunderstanding, though, is over why the hostages are getting released. You can hear it in the coverage and the speeches by the White House and the people involved. Put it simply: Hamas isn't releasing hostages because of "diplomatic pressure." They're releasing hostages because Israel is systematically destroying Hamas, and we're witnessing a terrorist organization panic in real time.
Biden Takes Credit For The Hostages
You can get this in things like Biden's statement on the releases, "From the moment Hamas kidnapped these people, I, along with my team, have worked around the clock to secure their release. We saw the first results of this effort..."
Hamas didn't take hostages to release them after negotiating with the United States, Qatar, and Israel. Hamas took hostages as an insurance policy and has watched that policy go up in flames. Israel has taken the fight to Hamas across Gaza, wiping out tunnels and surrounding numerous Hamas nerve centers.
Israel Takes The Hospital
One of the major flashpoints has been al Shifa Hospital, a place that Hamas has used as a central headquarters for years. But in the current coverage, the press pretends this is a coin-flip question, so much so that Israel has had to take journalists into the terrorist tunnels dug by Hamas, which have held weaponry, hostages, and more.
The thing is, if you go back a few years and read coverage of this hospital, there's no question it was a central headquarters for Hamas. Here's a 2014 piece from the Washington Post discussing the hospital as an aside:
At the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority's health minister, who represents the crumbling "unity government" in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.
Everyone knew that the hospital was part of the Hamas infrastructure. That's why it wasn't shocking to see Hamas running hostages into the hospital on security cameras in the hospital. And Israel has strong reason to arrest the director of the hospital, given everything that we know about that facility.
Hamas Responds To Military Pressure
But the broader point is this: Israel has taken that hospital, and as such, they've taken over a Hamas command center. Once that happened, suddenly, Hamas was willing to start releasing hostages.
It's amazing how losing ground, headquarters, and soldiers changes the tune of a terrorist organization in giving up hostages. As Biden said, his team tried negotiating the moment the conflict started. But it wasn't until Israel dropped a hammer on the head of Hamas that the ball started rolling.
And even with this, we're only getting batches of hostages. Hamas is scrambling to try and slow down the progress of Israel. These hostage handoffs are about Hamas attempting to preserve itself and hold back the steady march of the Israeli military.
Seth Mandel, in Commentary, put it succinctly, "Every time Israel was on the verge of a major strategic advance, it had Hamas leadership's full attention. The more leverage the IDF achieved on the ground in Gaza, the better the chances became that Hamas would follow through on a deal that would bring a significant number of the most vulnerable hostages home."
Israel Must Keep The Pressure High On Hamas
To that end, the next goal for Israel remains simple: pour on more steam. At no point should Hamas be allowed a moment to breathe. These monsters perpetuated one of the grossest acts in modern history, and they cannot be allowed to rest for a single moment. They are reacting to that pressure by releasing hostages in a bid to stall.
Israel understands this, and privately, the White House does as well. Everyone pushing the "ceasefire now" line is rooting for hostages to remain in the possession of Hamas and for terrorists to be given a respite. Evil should get no rest.
Diplomacy isn't changing the reality on the ground. Hamas may have wanted a war with Israel, but it didn't believe it would lose in this decisive fashion. Ginning up global protests is meaningless when everyone in charge sees the truth: Hamas is a floundering terrorist organization that cannot be trusted. It cares nothing about humanitarian goals. It is only seeking its own preservation.
The United States and Israel should have one response to these delay tactics: the only end goal is the complete eradication of Hamas and its removal from Gaza. Nothing else will do. Diplomacy won't do that. Only a strong military force will.