Why Did Israel Reject the Release of Two Israelis Held by Qassam Brigades in Gaza?

The two American women after their release as documented in Al-Qassam video released on Oct 20. (Photo: Military Media, video grab)

By Palestine Chronicle Editors

Israel reportedly rejected an offer by the Al-Qassam Brigades Resistance group to release two Israeli women “with no compensation”. But why?

Hours after the release of two American hostages held in Gaza by the Al-Qassam Brigades Resistance group, Al-Qassam offered to release two Israeli women, “with no compensation” – meaning without demanding any Israeli concession, for example allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza. 

Israel, according to Al-Qassam, the armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas, has rejected the offer. Why?

On Friday, October 20, Israel released two US citizens, Judith Tai Raanan and Natalie Raanan. Al-Qassam, then, said in a statement that their release was a ‘humanitarian gesture’ to prove ‘the deceit’ of the Joe Biden Administration.

That reference was specifically made to tell Biden that the Resistance in Gaza are not bloodthirsty killers as the US administration and many in the mainstream media have painted it. 

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Consistent with their earlier action, Al-Qassam, the following day, released this statement: 

“We informed our Qatari brothers yesterday evening that we would release all of the following: Nurit Yitzhak Card No. 001145416 (and) Yocheved Lifshitz Card No. 005236955, For compelling humanitarian reasons and without compensation; However, the occupation government refused to receive them.”

Two Questions

First, why did Israel refuse the release of the two Israelis but allowed the release of two Americans?

The release of the two US citizens simply happened because Israel could not afford the repercussions, in terms of US-Western public opinion, of refusing to save the lives of two Americans.

However, releasing two Israelis is quite problematic for the official Israeli propaganda, which is predicated on the idea that the current deadly Israeli war on Gaza is necessary to save the lives of over 200 prisoners and hostages. 

Therefore, if civilian hostages are released, one of the main pretenses of the Israeli war will lose its appeal. 

Second, why did Al-Qassam make the announcement?

Since the Resistance attack on southern Israel on October 7, Israeli society has been divided into two camps, a large one that wants to go to war for the sake of revenge, and a small one that felt compelled by the desire to free prisoners and captives, currently held by the Resistance in Gaza. 

By releasing information about the rejection by Israel of Al-Qassam’s offer, the Palestinian group wanted to deepen the divide in Israeli society, and place the focus on the release of the hostages, not the war for the sake of war.

Another reason is a strategic one: The Palestinian Resistance is aware of the massive coverage the Israeli war on Gaza is receiving on international media. 

Everytime a hostage is released, the media worldwide will be compelled to cover it, thus incrementally fortifying the original message of the Resistance, that the ISIS-like image created by Israel and its allies of those fighting in Gaza is completely wrong, because ISIS did not release hostages, and certainly did not treat them humanely. 


The following statement was released by Zaher Jabareen, Hamas official in charge of the prisoners’ file, after the writing of this brief analysis. It reads as follows, 

“Our offer to release the two female prisoners comes in accordance with the ethics of the resistance.

“Thousands of Palestinians are detained in Israeli prisons without charge or trial.

“We are in contact with our brothers inside the prisons; more than 6000 prisoners had all their achievements withdrawn, and they are being abused.

“Civilians are not a bargaining chip, and when field conditions are available, we will release them.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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