Monday, March 4, 2024

CIA giving Israel intel on Hamas leaders, hostages in Gaza: Report

The CIA has been providing intelligence to Israel on senior Hamas leaders and captives held in the Gaza Strip, according to a New York Times report quoting unnamed US officials.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reportedly ordered the formation of a new task force to gather intelligence on the captives’ whereabouts and Hamas leaders shortly after the October 7 attack.

The report said US officials believe that top Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is hiding in the deepest parts of the group’s tunnel network under Khan Younis in southern Gaza, and that he is also believed to have surrounded himself by Israeli captives to make any operation against him highly challenging.

It added Washington is spending many more resources on collecting intelligence on Hamas than it was before the war, and is also carrying out more drone flights over Gaza to intercept communications between Hamas operatives.

According to the report, the US has already started transferring information to Israel on the location of senior leaders, however, it is not clear how effective this has been and none of the major leaders in the besieged enclave have yet been killed or captured.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh has recently stressed that the group will only release Israeli hostages from Gaza after all Palestinian prisoners are released from Israel’s prisons.

“They will absolutely not retrieve their captives except after all our prisoners in occupation prisons are released,” he stated.

Haniyeh added that Israel “was not able to retrieve a single captive, except only after the resistance accepted the truce agreement”.

105 people were released by Hamas during a temporary truce with Israel, which started on November 24 and ended early December 1. In exchange, 240 Palestinians were freed from Israeli prisons, mainly women and minors, and many of whom had been detained but never charged.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7, killing more than 23,800 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injuring nearly 60,000 others, according to local health authorities.

The onslaught has left Gaza in ruins, with 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure damaged or destroyed and nearly 2 million residents displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine.

About 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s initial attack on Israel.

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