Israel Would Prefer Dead Hostages to Gaza Ceasefire — Scott Ritter
19:34 GMT 22.11.2023 (Updated: 09:24 GMT 05.12.2023)
Israel has agreed a truce and prisoner exchange with the Hamas movement. Scott Ritter, a former United Nations weapons inspector and US Marine, argued the deal was a victory for Palestine and a humiliation for the Zionist state.
The Israeli government would rather see hostages held in the Gaza Strip dead than swap them for Palestinian women and children, a leading peace campaigner says.
mediators announced a ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement late on Tuesday.
Under the deal, Israel and Hamas will observe a four-day "humanitarian pause". Hamas will release 50 women and children taken hostage in its October 7 incursion into southern Israel, while Israel will release 150 Palestinian women and children under 19 held in its prisons.
That will still leave almost 200 Israelis, most of them Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, captive in the besieged Gaza Strip, where their comrades have been waging a bombing and ground campaign for more a month and a half.
Some 13,000 Palestinians
have been killed and 33,000 injured, three-quarters of them women, children and the elderly. Israel has revised its own death toll on October 7 down to 1,200.
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter
that anyone "who cares about humanity and people" should welcome the good news of the agreement.
But he argued that the Israeli government never wanted to be in the position of exchanging prisoners "from a doctrinal standpoint"
"That's why they adopted something called the Hannibal directive, which basically tells the Israeli Defense Force to kill soldiers that have been captured by Hamas or Hezbollah so that they can't be used as leverage against Israel, "Ritter said, "as these these 200-plus hostages are being used right now."
He pointed out that several of the hostages had already been killed in the bombing
that reduced much of Gaza City and other urban areas to rubble — and even during the raid by the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and other militant groups.
"Some people even say the majority of the deaths that were suffered on October 7th, as Israeli forces closed with the various kibbutzes that were being occupied by Hamas who were holding hostages in Israeli tanks, fired on buildings, killing both Hamas fighters and and the hostages," Ritter noted.
He contrasted that with the aims of Hamas, which "made it one of their main objectives to take hostages for the express purpose of exchanging them for the prisoners being held."
"So this is a huge victory for Hamas," Ritter stressed. "This is one of the major objectives they set out in the Al-Aqsa flood operation to capture Israelis, bring them back, hold them, and then exchange them for a release of Palestinian prisoners who otherwise Israel had no intention of releasing."
"Remember, the Israelis have said 'we will never agree to a ceasefire'. A ceasefire is a victory for Hamas," he added. "Israel wouldn't be making concessions if they were winning. Israel is losing."
He underscored that the October 7 attack had shattered the myth of Israeli military invincibility that has underpinned the existence of the Jewish state since its creation in 1948.
"Israel was humiliated Their military, the vaunted IDF, was beat in a stand up fight by Hamas," Ritter said. "If you go and take a look at the record, Israeli intelligence observers had been reporting about the potential of a Hamas attack for some time now. This was incompetence. This was slop. This was the fact that the Israelis aren't as good as everybody was led to believe that they are."
22 November 2023, 17:11 GMT
Meanwhile, Lebanon's al-Mayadeen News said the IDF had deliberately targeted two of its staff, reporter Farah Omar and cameraman Rabih Memari, who were killed in a drone attack near the Israeli border.
The IDF insisted in a statement that it only targeted Hezbollah guerrillas — who have been waging a low-intensity campaign to tie down and estimated 100,000 Israeli troops in the north.
The pundit slammed the "arrogance" of the Israeli claim, when "they died because Israel bombed them and because Israel isn't discerning in picking their targets."
"We saw this in many previous wars," Ritter said. "In Vietnam, the United States used to kill civilians, then plant weapons and call them Vietcong."
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