The U.S. and Israel are uncertain about the number of hostages still alive after Hamas terrorists took them on Oct. 7.
There are nine missing American citizens and one U.S. green card-holder in Hamas custody.
Israel is classifying all 239 missing individuals as hostages of Hamas, but the exact number of hostages is unknown.
National Security adviser Jake Sullivan said, “We do not know the precise number of hostages.”
“We know the number of missing, and that’s the number the Israelis have given, but we don’t know how many of those are still alive.”
Sullivan further explained, “As far as Americans are concerned, there are nine missing American citizens as well as a missing legal permanent resident–a green card holder.”
Israeli airstrikes have targeted northern Gaza, and the Israeli Defense Forces have entered Gaza City in search of the hostages.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry claims that over 11,000 Gazans have been killed, but the U.S. rejects this data.
The U.S. is keeping all options on the table as negotiations to free scores of hostages in Gaza press on — playing a significant role in advancing talks between Israel and Hamas while actively formulating plans with international partners for tactical recovery operations that could be put into action if it’s determined they could be carried out with a reasonable level of risk, according to two American officials.
“There are a few different things that can make hostage takings and hostage recovery negotiations extremely complicated. This hostage situation has all of them,” said Danielle Gilbert, a member of the Bipartisan Commission on Hostage Taking and Wrongful Detention at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and political scientist at Northwestern University.
“Sometimes hostage-takers have in the past quite intentionally used an iterated nature of a negotiation to gather as many concessions as possible while retaining hostages as well — so they might negotiate some sort of swap and then only release a portion of the hostages that they are holding and continue to demand more to let more people go,” she said. “So that is something probably both the kidnappers and target governments are thinking about.”