Rethinking U.S. Hostage Policy in Gaza and Beyond

Americans have become a hot commodity. Compared to a decade ago, there has been a 175% increase in the number of hostage-taking incidents by hostile governments and terror groups involving Americans. That was before Hamas took around a dozen Americans, alongside some 240 others, hostage on October 7.

While those horrific kidnappings brought the epidemic to the forefront of the public’s mind, it was both presaged and enabled by a marked rise in government-sponsored detentions of Americans for political purposes. The U.S. policy response – across continents and administrations – has exacerbated this trend, rewarding hostage-takers with political and monetary concessions in-stead of deterring and penalizing them.

There is an urgent need to change course to secure the release of Americans, and all hostages, from Gaza and avoid more Americans being taken hostage. The United States should demand Qatar extradite Hamas’ leadership for their involvement in the 10/7 attacks to increase pressure on the terrorist group to release hostages. The United States should also lead a broader interna-tional effort to penalize the hostile governments and groups that take Western citizens hostage.

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