Israel’s call to Xi Jinping to mediate the release of Chinese detainees held by Hamas

Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to China was scheduled for October 2023, but the Hamas attack against Israel came on October 7, 2023, making Netanyahu's visit, to Beijing uncertain.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to China was scheduled for October 2023, but the Hamas attack against Israel came on October 7, 2023, making Netanyahu’s visit, which was scheduled for late October 2023, to Beijing uncertain.  After that, Israel tried in various ways and means to win over the Chinese in any form or trick to their advantage, which became clear and can be understood from the request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help China in securing the release of the Chinese hostage held by Hamas, Noah Argamani.  He tried to gain sympathy from the Chinese side by saying that the hostage’s mother, Noa Argamani, is a Chinese citizen and suffers from cancer.

  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to improve his distorted image among his citizens and officials after holding him responsible for the developments that occur, especially after the former Chief of Staff of the Israeli occupation army “Dan Halutz”, said that: “Israel lost the war against Hamas, and that the only image of victory that “What will be achieved is the overthrow of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”, with the audience’s warm applause for Israeli General “Dan Halutz”, he continued his speech, stressing that “this is the image of victory. This is what we need to guide the entire audience and millions of others in Israel”.  Hence, Netanyahu is trying in any way to achieve any personal victory, even if it is fake or imaginary, by trying to involve other parties, such as China, to carry out its responsibility and the responsibility of every other country. Israel claims to detain their citizens with the Hamas movement to mediate their release.   

  However, the American network “NBC” confirmed that the kidnapped Chinese-Israeli woman “Noa Argamani” was not kidnapped by the Hamas movement, but was likely to have been kidnapped by civilians in the Gaza Strip, and they had no connection to the armed Palestinian factions. Also, according to the Israeli channel “N12”, conflicting information has emerged, because two hostages who were released from Gaza reported seeing them there, which raises doubts about the assertions of the American network “NBC” on the same subject. This may explain why Chinese-Israeli prisoner “Noa Argamani” was not released during the ceasefire in November 2023.  This casts doubt on the identity of the kidnappers of “Argamani”.  All text messages, call recordings, human source information, and satellite images at the time of the kidnapping indicate that “Argamani” was not kidnapped by armed members of Hamas, but perhaps by another civilian group from the Gaza Strip, who were acting independently of them.

  During a speech he delivered before the Knesset, in which Israeli Prime Minister “Benjamin Netanyahu” spoke about his efforts to release the hostages, Netanyahu described during his speech, and how he requested the intervention of Chinese President “Xi Jinping”, through the Chinese ambassador to Tel Aviv “Cai Run”.  Netanyahu said that he asked Ambassador Tsai to send a direct message to President “Xi Jinping”, stating: “There is a daughter held hostage by a Chinese mother, and I personally request your intervention in the issue of Noa Argamani.”  He continued: “I explained to the Chinese ambassador to Israel, Tsai, that the problem is that her Chinese mother just wants to see her daughter for the last time before she dies, so we ask for the intervention of China and Chinese President “Xi Jinping” personally with the Hamas movement, to release the Chinese hostage “Noah Argamani”  to Hamas.

  But the response came from the Palestinian side, through an announcement by the (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades), the military wing of the Hamas movement, that a large number of hostages held by the Palestinian movement in the Gaza Strip had likely been killed, holding the Israeli leadership responsible for that, due to its invasion of the Gaza Strip and its waging war.  Genocide in the Gaza Strip, which caused the death and loss of dozens of hostages and prisoners held by Hamas inside tunnels in the Gaza Strip. This is what the Hamas movement tried to clarify to the Chinese themselves and to the world by leaking a statement by an Israeli prisoner released by the Hamas movement, that: “He did not feel afraid of being killed by members of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), but rather he was afraid of being killed in Israeli attacks”. On the Gaza Strip.  This statement was made by the freed Israeli prisoner held by Hamas, during leaked audio recordings of a meeting between released Israeli prisoners and some of their families with Israeli Prime Minister “Benjamin Netanyahu” after their release in a prisoner exchange with Hamas. According to those leaked recordings of the released Israeli prisoners, the (Ynet Arabic website), which is one of the most famous news sites in Israel, indicated that the relatives of the released Israelis had expressed their anger and dissatisfaction with “Netanyahu” because of the air raids on Gaza, in light of the continuation of the Palestinian factions. In detaining Israelis in the Gaza Strip.  Another released Israeli prisoner from Hamas also explained that an Israeli helicopter opened fire on Israeli civilians detained in the Gaza Strip.

   Here, China’s true position on what is going on in Gaza can be understood through the Chinese categorical refusal to send its workers to Israel, according to assurances from senior Israeli officials, by the Chinese refusal to send their workers to Israel during the war, against the backdrop of a shortage of workers in the construction and agricultural sectors in Tel Aviv. According to senior Israeli military officials, the Chinese are not interested in Israeli considerations based on “who is with us in the war and who is not with us”.    

  In this context, the Israeli embassy in China is trying to push China to adopt a positive stance in its favor, especially after the Israeli embassy in Beijing was exposed to a wave of hostile messages. Therefore, the Israeli mission in Beijing shed light on a number of hostile comments made by the Chinese on its account on Twitter.  Chinese social media, where the Israeli embassy in the Chinese capital, Beijing, expressed its alarm at the increasing wave of anti-Semitic sentiment, according to its belief, in various media outlets on social networking sites in China, with increasing Israeli accusations of the Chinese government promoting a narrative that places the blame directly on Israel, as an principal ally of the United States of America. China also refused to criticize Hamas as a terrorist organization with Russia in the UN Security Council by using its veto power.

  But what is worth stopping and analyzing for me is the intervention of the President of the Palestinian Authority “Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen”, through his communication with officials in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, seeking to obstruct the visit of a Hamas delegation to China, after China recently expressed its openness to playing an effective role in the Palestinian file and reconciling the parties. This contradicts the same position of “Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen” regarding agreeing to a Hamas delegation visit twice to Moscow, and their meeting with senior Russian officials immediately after the start of the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation on October 7, 2023.

  Based on the development of events in the Gaza Strip between the Palestinian resistance factions and Israel, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged, in a published official document, that a sustainable truce be established between Israel and the Hamas movement, saying that: “the parties to the conflict must immediately establish a permanent and sustainable humanitarian truce”. In its statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called for a “comprehensive ceasefire and an end to the fighting”. In its document, the ministry urged the UN Security Council to send a “clear message” in which China affirms its rejection of the process of “forced transfer of the Palestinian civilian population”, and also calls for “the release of all civilians and hostages held by the Palestinian and Israeli sides”. The Ministry also called on the UN Security Council to “require the parties to the conflict to exercise restraint to prevent the conflict from expanding, and to support peace and stability in the Middle East”.

    Accordingly, it is expected that China’s involvement in the Middle East will increase during this raging conflict in the Gaza Strip, as Beijing will play a major role in the efforts made to end the war and secure its economic interests at the same time. It also wants to benefit from the frustration of the Arab countries towards the United States of  America to establish itself as a superpower in the region. However, Beijing’s new approach risks upsetting Israel. 

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit