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Hostage situation at 'dead end,' says former head of IDF Prisoners and Missing Persons unit

IDF Lt-Col Kalo: Return of hostages will 'probably' require a 'ceasefire'

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, May 18, 2024. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The former head of Israel's military intelligence’s Prisoners and Missing Persons Division announced on Sunday that the IDF’s current strategies to bring back Israeli hostages have reached a “dead end.”

Israel Defense Forces Lt.-Col. (res) Avi Kalo also said a ceasefire is likely the only way the hostages will be reunited with their families.

"The solution to the return of the hostages at this time is probably through a ceasefire,” Kalo said in an interview on Radio 103FM, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Kalo claimed that the impasse was due to the IDF’s failure to take advantage of strategic opportunities.

While praising the intelligence efforts that led to the recent retrieval of four hostages’ bodies, Kalo said Israel currently lacks the strategic advantage necessary to secure the return of all the hostages to their families without a ceasefire.

“Locating the bodies of four hostages demonstrated very high intelligence capabilities and the fact that we have a certain operational foothold on the ground,” he said. “We cannot pin our hopes on the operational foothold being the one to bring all the hostages back home.”

Whatever opportunity the IDF once had, Kalo said, has now expired.

“We should have seized the opportunity, right now we are at a dead end.”

Kalo additionally stated that the IDF’s failure to take advantage of such opportunities has allowed Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar to improve Hamas’ strategic position in the war.

“Yahya Sinwar’s comfort zone is expanding in a way that does [not] require any action on his part,” he sad in the interview. “All indications suggest a more comfortable strategic situation for Sinwar.”

“In the absence of a comprehensive post-operation strategic solution, it will be difficult to negotiate the release of the hostages,” Kalo argued. “The government refuses to discuss the issue, not even with the Americans.”

According to Kalo’s analysis, the current Israeli government has failed to prioritize the return of the hostages.

“The leadership is required to make tough decisions,” he said. “There are no simple solutions to this matter. Returning hostages is one of the two main objectives. If we achieve both of them – it is a central piece of the victory image alongside weakening Hamas.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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