U.S. Special Operations Forces are reportedly prepared for delicate “contingencies” that could involve direct U.S. involvement in efforts to recover American hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.
According to Spencer Ackerman of Forever Wars, a senior Pentagon official indicated that “if the time comes where [SOF] are needed,” to aid in the recovery of the hostages then “yes,” involvement by Special Forces would be considered. Ackerman added that his own understanding is that “this option is in the break-glass-in-case-of-absolute-emergency category.”
There are currently no concrete plans for such involvement and the United States must toe the line between effective advocacy for the hostages, as well as other Americans who remain trapped in the besieged Gaza Strip, and the potential for backlash from other major players in the region should the United States involve itself in ground operations within Gaza.
Threats of other nations escalating the conflict into a full-blown regional war already have U.S. officials on edge. In late October, the United States cautioned both Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah against inserting themselves into the war.
The U.S. Special Forces currently stationed in Israel have been aiding in intelligence analysis aimed at tracking down the locations of more than 200 hostages seized on October 7 by Hamas militants, among them an estimated 10 Americans. Five hostages have been released so far, including two Americans. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden called for a “pause” in the conflict to “give time to get the [hostages] out.”
“We are continuing to see if there are ways to make that happen. We are prepared to support humanitarian pauses so that hostages can get out safely,” Jake Sullivan, U.S. National Security Adviser, told ABC News on Sunday. “We will keep working at that every day because the president has no higher priority than the safe return of American citizens and wants to support the return of citizens of other countries and Israelis as well.”
What progress has been made in securing the release of the hostages remains unknown. On Thursday hundreds of foreign nationals and dual citizens who had been trapped within the Gaza Strip were cleared to leave the region through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.
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