Biden calls it a cease fire, Netanyahu says Israel still at war

As generally expected, Israel’s war and security cabinets approved a deal with Hamas brokered by Qatar to pause the war and exchange hostages for Palestinian prisoners. The deal promises to exchange as many as 80 kidnapped victims of the October 7th massacre for 150 security-related convicts, but only women and minors and not including any captured Hamas operatives in this war.

Starting at 10 am tomorrow in Jerusalem — 3 am ET — the first 50 hostages will get released in stages over four days of the “pause.” Another 30 could be released in a potential second four-day “pause,” if it holds.


Some 40 children and 13 mothers are held hostage, but not all of them will be included in the initial group slated for release because Hamas claims that it does not know the location of all the hostages, including the children.

It’s expected that the initial release will include 30 children, eight mothers, and 12 other women, including the elderly whose lives are at risk. …

Israel will in exchange release some 150 Palestinian women and minors held in its jails on security related offenses, but none of them would be those who had directly been involved in terror attacks with fatalities.

There is a possibility for the release of an additional 30 hostages held in Gaza should the pause in the fighting be extended for up to another four days.

“The release of every additional ten hostages will result in one additional day in the pause,” the government stated.

That open-ended construct could turn out to be a real problem for the IDF, which will have to sit still for several days in hostile territory while the exchanges play out. Each additional day allows Hamas to craft ambushes when they decide to stop “pausing.” It also gives Hamas an opportunity to stanch the intel bleed coming from Gazans who have decided to save themselves from Hamas’ grip by cooperating with IDF forces. If the IDF has to sit while Hamas gets to decide when, where, and how to end the exchanges, that’s a very dangerous position to be in.

So why did Israel take the deal? The unity government certainly had political pressure on them to get the hostages out from home. But as the New York Times reports, the White House is claiming credit for the deal, based on Joe Biden’s heavy political pressure on Israel to back down from its initial position for all hostages in exchange for any pause and aid:

Israel’s acceptance of the terms of a hostage deal with Hamas late on Tuesday reflected the intense pressure brought by the Biden administration to reach an agreement that would free some of those held by the armed group and produce potential longer-term opportunities to de-escalate the conflict.

Er … how do you “de-escalate” a conflict when the aggressor insists it will not stop until it annihilates the other? The US has imposed “de-escalation” on Israel a number of times after Hamas attacks, and it never works. Hamas isn’t interested in de-escalation; they only seek the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of all Jews within it. They keep making that clear, and the West keeps refusing to believe them, or ignores it altogether. It’s the epitome of the old saw about insanity consisting of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

But they’re really proud of their insanity.

The initial approval of the deal by the Israeli cabinet came after a “secret cell” of top aides to President Biden worked furiously over the past several weeks on a web of negotiations involving Qatar, Egypt and Israel, an effort hampered by communications outages in Gaza and a series of last-minute disputes that derailed the talks.

White House officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the five weeks of sensitive negotiations that had led to a deal, said the agreement would include the release of three Americans: two women and a toddler. The officials said they would continue to push for the release of all U.S. hostages.

And also proud of the entirely self-serving nature of that insanity too, apparently.

The deal came at a time when Democrats are increasingly divided over Biden’s embrace of Israel, particularly as the civilian toll in Gaza grows, and as polling shows the president receiving low marks on his handling of the crisis ahead of his re-election campaign.

This will become a real problem for Biden, and sooner rather than later, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Note that no one is calling this a “cease fire” except for the White House (which desperately needs to sell it as such to the Left), and for good reason. Both sides have pledged to continue the war after the temporary cessation ends.  Benjamin Netanyahu alluded to the dangers inherent in a pause by declaring this approval a “difficult decision but the right one,” and pledged that the pause was not a change in strategy.

“We are at war, and the war will continue until all our goals are achieved,” he says.

The return of hostages is a top, “sacred priority and I am committed to it,” Netanyahu says.

“Before us is a difficult decision but the right one,” he adds. “We will not rest until everyone is returned. The war has stages and the return of the hostages will have stages.”

Defense minister Yoav Gallant credited the ground operation for pressuring Hamas into a much smaller deal than they would otherwise demand. If it hadn’t been for the rapid collapse of their Gaza infrastructure, Hamas wouldn’t have made a deal with the Israelis at all short of total withdrawal, Gallant claimed. Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s political rival, also signed onto the deal while committing to continuing the war:

In fact, Israel has yet to stop its operations in Gaza as it positions itself for the upcoming “pause.” That came as a surprise to ABC News, which included it as an update with a headline that ignored Hamas’ continued operations as well:

IDF continues to bombard Gaza despite reaching deal on truce, hostages

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed in a statement that it “is continuing to operate in the Gaza Strip, including striking terrorist infrastructure, killing terrorists, and locating weapons.”

“This morning, IDF troops neutralized a terror tunnel shaft from which a Hamas terrorist exited and fired at the soldiers,” the IDF said. “Moreover, IDF troops identified terrorists and located weapons in a structure used by the Hamas terrorist organization. The troops killed the terrorists and destroyed the structure.”

That’s a classic case of the Mom He Hit Me Back! narrative that US media use so often when it comes to Israel. Neither side is bound to stop operations until the moment a cease-fire goes into effect. And as Israel knows from literally every other cease fire agreement with Hamas, the terrorists won’t feel bound to it at all. Hamas will stick to it for as long as it suits their ability to redeploy assets to kill more Jews, and not a moment longer, and without notice.

That brings us to the question in my headline: And then what? At some point, Hamas will go back to its attempted genocide of Jews in Israel and the annihilation of our ally. What will Biden and his “secret cell” do then? Demand that Israel keep standing down and allow a declared genocidal terrorist army to keep conducting massacres? That’s clearly not sustainable, and Israel is not going to go along with that ever again, as they have made clear. Other than getting some of the hostages back, the only thing this does is provide a few days of punting, especially for Biden’s political problems.

This war has to be fought to a conclusion, and the sooner Biden and his “secret cell” realizes that, the better off they and Israel will be.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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