U.S. Intelligence Helped Israel Rescue Four Hostages in Gaza

The U.S. provided intelligence on the hostages before Israel’s successful rescue operation Saturday, according to American and Israeli officials briefed on the assistance.

A team of American hostage recovery officials stationed in Israel assisted the Israeli military’s effort to rescue the four captives by providing intelligence and other logistical support, one American official said, speaking without attribution to discuss the sensitive operation.

Intelligence collection and analysis teams from the U.S. and the U.K. have been in Israel throughout the war, assisting Israeli intelligence in collecting and analyzing information related to the hostages, some of them citizens of both countries, according to a senior Israeli defense official familiar with the effort to locate and rescue the hostages.

Two Israeli intelligence officials said the American military officials in Israel provided some of the intelligence about the hostages rescued Saturday.

Speaking in Paris after meeting with Emmanuel Macron of France, President Biden said he welcomed “the safe rescue of four hostages that were returned to their families in Israel. We won’t stop working until all the hostages come home and a cease-fire is reached, and it’s essential.”

The Pentagon and the C.I.A. have been providing information collected from drone flights over Gaza, communications intercepts and other sources about the potential location of hostages. While Israel has its own intelligence, the U.S. and Britain have been able to provide intelligence from the air and cyberspace that Israel cannot collect on its own, the Israeli official said.

Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, celebrated the rescue, and referred glancingly at the American assistance.

“The United States is supporting all efforts to secure the release of hostages still held by Hamas, including American citizens,” Mr. Sullivan said in a statement. “This includes through ongoing negotiations or other means.”

Mr. Sullivan added that the cease-fire proposal currently being discussed by negotiators from Hamas, Israel, Egypt, Qatar and the United States would be the way to bring home the remaining hostages.

“The hostage release and cease-fire deal that is now on the table would secure the release of all the remaining hostages together with security assurances for Israel and relief for the innocent civilians in Gaza,” he said.

American officials have said their intelligence support for Israel is focused on the location of hostages and information about Hamas’ top leadership. In large measure this is because American officials believe the best way to persuade Israel to end the war, is to get back its hostages and capture or kill top Hamas leaders.

The Israeli official said neither the American nor British teams were involved in the planning or execution of the military operations to rescue the hostages. Israelis, experts in hostage rescue, would have required little support in the tactical planning. But the American and Israeli officials said the outside intelligence did provide added value.

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