Report: US intel for hostage rescue was secondary to Israeli information gathered in Gaza before operation

Hostages Almog Meir Jan and Andrey Kozlov are seen being rescued by forces of the Yamam unit, in central Gaza's Nuseirat, June 8, 2024. (Israel Police)
Hostages Almog Meir Jan and Andrey Kozlov are seen being rescued by forces of the Yamam unit, in central Gaza's Nuseirat, June 8, 2024. (Israel Police)

Intelligence provided by the United States that helped plan last week’s successful rescue of four hostages held by Hamas in Gaza was secondary to information gathered by Israeli operatives in Gaza before the raid, the Washington Post reports.

The US provided overhead imagery to help Israel plan the daring daylight rescue, according to American and Israeli officials quoted in the report.

Intelligence provided by the US can only be used for locating Israeli hostages held by terror groups in Gaza since October 7, including eight Americans, along with the Hamas leadership, according to an agreement with the Biden administration. The Iran-backed group is designated a terror organization by the US.

The report also quotes American officials as saying that members of the US elite operations force JSOC, which has “deep experience in hostage rescues,” have been working closely with counterparts in Israel since Hamas terrorists murdered some 1,200 people and kidnapped 251 to Gaza, mostly civilians, on October 7.

The officials are quoted as saying that back in October, plans were made — but ultimately not executed — for JSOC forces to deploy in Gaza to rescue US citizens held by Hamas.

“If we managed to unilaterally get information that we could act on, and we thought we could actually get US people out alive, we could act, but there was genuinely very little information specifically about US hostages,” says one of the US officials quoted by the Washington Post.

The report points to the importance — and dearth — of human intelligence from within Gaza, which is gradually increasing as the war continues, including from interrogating detained Hamas operatives and scouring documents and digital files discovered during ongoing maneuvers in the Strip.

Illustrative: IDF soldiers inside a Hamas data center in a tunnel under a compound of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) in Gaza City, February 8, 2024. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Intelligence gleaned from these sources was used in Saturday’s hostage rescue operation, along with in previous operations to recover the bodies of hostages, the Washington Post reports.

It is believed that 116 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that. Seven hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 19 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 41 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also holding two Israeli civilians who entered the Strip in 2014 and 2015, as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014.

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