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Is it true that a journalist from Al Jazeera held Israeli hostages in Gaza?

On Saturday, four Israeli hostages were rescued by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that were held in the refugee camp of Nuseirat in the center of Gaza. All had been abducted from a desert rave-turned-massacre site during the October 7 attacks in southern Israel, in which Hamas killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 251 people as hostages. A deal agreed in November made Hamas release 105 hostages in return for a week-long ceasefire and some 240 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. 

Western and Israeli intelligence calculate that around 70 of the remaining hostages are still alive in the Palestinian territory, and 40 are already dead. With the operation of Saturday, the IDF has now been able to rescue 7 hostages in total. Noa Argamani, a 26-year-old who had emerged as an icon of the hostage crisis, was being held in one apartment, whereas three male hostages, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41, were in another about 200 meters away.

The rescue of Argamani went quite smoothly, while the team extracting the three other hostages got into heavy fights with hand grenades and intense shootings, and later on the rescue vehicle carrying the three hostages got stuck in the camp. Palestinian militants armed with machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades opened fire on the rescuers, so the commandos that rescued the hostages called for support which came from land and air to cover their evacuation to the coast, where a helicopter took all the Israelis out of Gaza.

It was this bombardment that appears to have killed and wounded so many Palestinians. According to Hamas, at least 274 Palestinians have been killed, while the Israeli military has estimated that fewer than 100 people died in the operation but confirmed that an Israeli commando leader has been killed in the operation. Hamas also later released a video saying that three other hostages, including an American, were killed in the bombardment, but no evidence for this has been provided so far.

On Sunday, the IDF stated that the three male hostages rescued were held captive by journalist Abdallah Aljamal, connected to the Qatar based news outlet Al Jazeera, that has been banned in Israel with the start of the current war. Aljamal lived on the first floor of a multi-story building, while the hostages were found on the third floor. Aljamal was killed in the IDF operation along with his wife and father.

Al Jazeera initially released a statement calling Israel’s allegations “completely unfounded, we do not know him, and all the rumors that have been spread are empty of content and not true at all,” and “a continuation of the process of slander and misinformation aimed at harming Al Jazeera’s reputation, professionalism, and independence”. 

But, the IDF and internet users around the world found quickly that Aljamal has written an opinion piece as a free-lance journalist for Al Jazeera, and for the Palestine Chronicle, a US based pro-Hamas news outlet. Al Jazeera’s website credits Aljamal as the author of an op-ed published in 2019, and his biography page on the site describes him as a “Gaza-based reporter and photojournalist.” Moreover, Aljamal has been spokesperson for Hamas’s Ministry of Labor.

Finally, Israel released a statement saying: “Following the completion of IDF and ISA examinations of reports on the subject, it can be confirmed that Abdallah Aljamal was an operative in the Hamas terrorist organization, who held the hostages Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv captive in his family home in Nuseirat. The hostages were held captive by Abdallah Aljamal and members of his family in their home. This is further evidence of the deliberate use of civilian homes and buildings by the Hamas terrorist organization to hold Israeli hostages captive in the Gaza Strip”.

Some Palestinians are against the strategy of Hamas, like Hassan Omar, 37, who said to the BBC that he “lamented the unnecessary loss of lives in Israeli strikes. For each Israeli hostage they could have freed 80 Palestinian prisoners and without any bloodshed, that is a million times better than losing 100 dead. My message to Hamas is that stopping the loss is part of the gain, we should get rid of those who control us from Qatar hotels.”

Finally, it is true that many hostages have been held captive among civilians, and that Hamas fights surrounded by civilians, but it is not the same to say that Hamas always uses human shields, as the battles in Gaza happen in extremely populated areas. This operation also shows that the claim of Israel that many civilians and so-called journalists work actively hand in hand with Hamas is true.


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