J Street Expresses Deep Sympathy Over Hostage Deaths, Urges Renewed Approach

December 15, 2023

J Street expresses our deepest sympathy to the families of the three Israeli hostages tragically and mistakenly killed today by the Israel Defense Forces. The last two and a half months have been filled with tragedy and horror, starting with the barbaric attack on October 7 by Hamas on southern Israel and running through today’s horrific news.

The safety and well-being of the over 100 hostages still being held by Hamas remains at the forefront of our minds and of the concerns of the Israeli public. We continue to demand their immediate and unconditional release. Hostage taking is a clear and inexcusable violation of international law.

There is a strong and growing desire from hostage families and from Israelis more broadly for another effort at negotiations to bring the remaining hostages to safety. It is clear from this and other recent news that the scope, scale, and tactics of the present Israeli operation are putting the lives and safety of those hostages – and thousands of Palestinian civilians – continually at risk.

We too add our voices to those in Israel and around the world who ask that the Netanyahu government put the safety and well-being of the hostages front and center. The President of the United States has made clear that the safety of hostages and civilians is a primary concern for American policymakers.

J Street hopes that another negotiated effort can be made to seek a formula for a break in the fighting to secure more hostage releases through exchanges for prisoners and humanitarian assistance. We are deeply concerned – as is the Biden administration – that the present intensity of Israel’s operation is not achieving the goals of the operation, is putting the hostages at risk and is causing unfathomable harm to Gaza’s civilian population.

May the memory of the hostages lost today be a blessing, and may today’s tragedy be an inspiration for a shift in strategy and policy toward diplomacy with regional actors as the route to bring about the safe return of those who remain in captivity.