Israel agrees to hostage deal with Hamas

I’ll confess that I was skeptical yesterday regarding the latest rumors of some sort of hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, but to give credit where due, it turned out that the media hit pay dirt. 

This morning, the Israeli Parliament voted overwhelmingly to enter into a deal that will reportedly see a significant (though still small) number of hostages released in exchange for a much larger number of Palestinian prisoners and a “truce” lasting four or five days. The brief ceasefire is currently scheduled to begin on Thanksgiving morning. 

The 50 hostages Hamas claims to be releasing are all women and children. 

Meanwhile, roughly 150 Palestinians would be released from Israeli jails. It was originally believed that they would also be primarily women and children, but this morning Israel released a list of mostly young men, with roughly 40 women included. 

So is this a sensible move on Netanyahu’s part, or is Hamas being let off the hook here? 

From the NY Post:

Israel has approved a deal with Hamas in which 50 hostages held by the terror group would be freed in exchange for a cease-fire in Gaza lasting at least four days.

The Qatar-mediated agreement was overwhelmingly approved by the Israel Cabinet early Wednesday morning local time after more than six hours of debating – marking the first major diplomatic breakthrough since the start of the war.

As part of the deal — struck more than six weeks into the current conflict — Hamas is set to release 50 of the 240 hostages taken during their Oct. 7 attack on the Jewish nation, according to the Israeli government.

How good of a deal this turns out to be depends on what you consider the number one priority of Israel’s agenda to be. For many, including the White House, the release of the hostages was of ultimate importance. Netanyahu has also been careful to regularly state that the hostages were at the top of his mind. Unfortunately, that’s obviously what Hamas has been counting on from the beginning and it appears that their strategy is beginning to pay off. The real objective still needs to be the complete and total destruction of Hamas, but that may have to wait for a painful period of time.

The reason for that uncertainty comes with another detail of the reported deal that isn’t attracting as much attention. This morning, a spokesman for the Israeli government said that the “pause” in fighting could be extended another day for every ten additional hostages that are released. Hamas is only releasing 50 of the reported 240 hostages they are believed to hold. If they then trickle out the rest of them in groups of ten, they could push the ceasefire out for almost three more weeks, assuming they are all still actually alive. (That’s a totally unknown factor in this equation.)

Is that enough time for them to regroup and resupply their fighters to the point where they can go back to “business as usual” or even launch another attack on Israeli soil? That’s hard to say. They’ve taken quite a beating. But it’s also possible that they might be able to take more hostages elsewhere during that period of time and drag this entire ceasefire out interminably. Alternately, they could trickle out hostages for a week or so and then change their demands, calling for a total end to the war in exchange for the release of the rest. They could be counting on pressure from the West to leverage Israel into abandoning its plans to fully eliminate Hamas, which would be a disaster.

No matter how it plays out initially, it seems as if the Hamas negotiators in Qatar must have a longer game in mind. If they simply release all of their hostages, even if it takes three weeks, and then Israel resumes the full attack, they will still be destroyed. Why would they ever release the final ten people if that’s the only leash they have available on the IDF? It makes no sense.

Bibi Netanyahu once again reaffirmed that a permanent ceasefire was not on the table. This morning he made that clear.

“We are at war and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals,” Netanyahu said in a recorded message at the start of the latest government meeting. “To destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel.”

It’s good to hear the Prime Minister speaking in such unwavering terms. Unfortunately, many of Israel’s allies, including Joe Biden, are definitely showing signs of wavering. It’s possible that a prolonged truce could further bolster a belief among Western allies that this can all be put to rest and the Middle East can return to the status quo. That shouldn’t even be on the table. Hamas must be removed like the cancer cell that it is. Netanyahu knows this and the West needs to be reminded of that.

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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