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Russian Delegation Urges Hamas to Release Dual Citizens Held Hostage in Gaza Crisis

In a rare move, Hamas engaged in talks with Russian diplomats in Moscow concerning the Gaza-Israel crisis. This dialogue, though controversial, has yielded progress, particularly regarding the release of dual Russian-Israeli citizens held captive by Hamas since the October 7th attacks.

According to reports from The Moscow Times, Hamas has initiated efforts to locate eight Russian-Israeli dual citizens out of the nearly 230 individuals taken hostage during the attacks. This action follows a request from Moscow to secure their release, marking a significant development in the ongoing diplomatic efforts.

So far, four hostages have been released through international negotiations facilitated by Qatar, including two American citizens from Chicago. Some sectors within Israel have expressed concerns that the focus on freeing dual nationals might overshadow efforts to secure the release of all captives.

Hamas representative Moussa Abu Marzook confirmed the receipt of a list of dual citizens with Russian citizenship from the Russian Foreign Ministry. He affirmed Hamas’s commitment to locating and releasing these individuals, emphasizing Russia’s status as a close ally. Abu Marzook also assured that the Russian-Israeli citizens would be set free once conditions allowed for their safe release.

These statements are indicative of Hamas’s continued efforts to cultivate relations with Russia over the past several years. For Hamas, maintaining a positive rapport with Moscow is crucial, given Russia’s influence in potential future resolutions to the Gaza crisis. Notably, Russia has refrained from designating Hamas as a terrorist organization, which sets it apart from several Western countries.

The discussions between Russia and Hamas have raised concerns among Western officials and analysts. Hamas’s attempt to depict the capture of Israeli civilians as a result of chaos has been met with skepticism, especially considering the significant loss of life during the October 7th raids. While the exact death toll remains uncertain, estimates suggest it exceeds 1,400, including women and children.

The issue of foreign nationals held captive in Gaza remains delicate for Israel’s leadership. Striking a balance between prioritizing the safety of Israeli citizens and working towards the release of foreign captives presents a complex diplomatic challenge for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his administration.

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