With the outbreak of the Israeli-Palestinian war, the US intelligence community set up a new task force to gather information on the whereabouts of the missing hostages. This unit is said to have uncovered important information about the top leadership of Hamas.
The CIA says it has passed information to Israel about senior Hamas leaders and the whereabouts of the remaining hostages, according to a New York Times report published Friday in which US officials spoke anonymously.
According to the report, the US has not shared information with Israel about low- and mid-level Hamas operatives. Some US officials also believe that targeting lower-level Hamas members is misguided because they can be more easily replaced. Doing so, they say, “poses an unnecessary risk to civilians”.
It also points out that Israel’s airstrikes in Gaza also risk accelerating recruitment to Hamas. The report also fails to clarify whether the information the CIA provided to Israel was valuable.
Following the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan ordered the formation of the task force. CIA Director William J. Burns is also said to be working actively and intensively with Mossad Director David Barnea to secure the release of the remaining hostages.
CIA raises Hamas classification
According to a so-called N12 report, the Israeli army IDF is in control of 60 percent of the Gaza Strip. Israeli security officials believe that the return of Gaza residents to northern Gaza could be used as a bargaining chip for the release of hostages.
Israel has informed the US that it estimates the IDF has eliminated one-third of Hamas fighters since the start of Operation Swords of Iron. It is estimated that Hamas was able to muster up to 25,000 fighters before October 7. Based on IDF data, this would mean more than 8,000 Hamas deaths.
According to US officials, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is hiding in the deepest parts of the Hamas tunnel network under Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. He is also believed to be surrounded by the Israeli hostages.
The CIA has raised Hamas’s classification from level four to level two, which in CIA parlance means increased resources to gather intelligence on the group.