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A possible ceasefire in Gaza? Hamas just stalling again?

Not that you can trust anything that the various spokespersons for Hamas say when their lips are moving, but the current word on the street in the Gaza Strip is that the terror group is ready to approve a version of the White House's latest ceasefire deal and Israel may be willing to go along with it as well. The "breakthrough," assuming there really has been one, would be driven by Hamas agreeing to drop one of its primary demands, that being a complete end to Israel's war against Hamas and a full, permanent withdrawal from Gaza. This would allegedly pave the way for a six-week ceasefire and the release of some - not all - of the remaining hostages. The IDF would also regroup in areas that would open safe passages for displaced Gazans in the southern part of the Strip to return to the evacuated areas in the north. But representatives for both sides were quick to assert that the deal has not yet been finalized. So is this offer from Hamas real, or are they simply stalling for time again? 

From the Associated Press:

Hamas has given its initial approval of a U.S.-backed proposal for a phased cease-fire deal in Gaza, dropping a key demand that Israel commit up front to a complete end to the war, a Hamas official and an Egyptian official said Saturday.

The apparent compromise by the militant group, which controlled Gaza before triggering the war with an Oct. 7 attack on Israel, could deliver the first pause in fighting since November and set the stage for further talks on ending a devastating nine months of fighting. But all sides cautioned that a deal is still not guaranteed.

Inside Gaza, the Health Ministry said an Israeli airstrike on a school-turned-shelter killed at least 16 people and wounded at least 50 others in the Nuseirat refugee camp. Children were among the dead and wounded. Israel’s military said it was looking into the report.

If this deal somehow goes through, Hamas would agree to release older, sick, and female hostages. In exchange, Israel would have to release hundreds of additional Palestinian prisoners. Some of the Gazan resettlement camps in the southern part of the Strip could be cleared out, with the residents being allowed to return to the northern parts of the Strip where the IDF has already cleared out the Hamas fighters and collapsed or flooded the terror tunnels. Presumably, deliveries of food and other aid would be free to stream into those areas.

If Israel sees this as a feasible plan, I don't see anything wrong with giving it a try. After all, anything that brings more hostages home is a step in the right direction. But we have to ask why Hamas would agree to something like this given their previously held position. The first possibility is that they have no intention of going through with it. They're just stalling to buy more time and the chance to push more propaganda about supposed Israeli "war atrocities" to gain more sympathy from the United Nations.

I suppose it's also possible that Hamas could be serious. They are very badly beaten up at this point and the attacks of the IDF have been relentless. They would probably welcome a break of a month or so. They've also lost a huge percentage of their fighters. If Israel releases hundreds of additional prisoners, it's not hard to imagine that a certain percentage of them would take up arms and replenish the ranks of Hamas.

If they manage to get this part of the deal done, negotiations would start on phase two. That would see the release of most of the rest of the hostages along with another ceasefire. But it's difficult to see how either side could agree to such terms. If Hamas is completely destroyed, then there is nobody to negotiate with. If they are not, then Israel will have failed in the primary promised objective of eliminating the terror group once and for all. There is little point is having the world invest massive amounts of resources in rebuilding the Gaza Strip if we're just going to have to go through the entire process again the next time Hamas builds up enough troops to attack the Jews again. And there still hasn't been the slightest suggestion of who would be placed in charge of Gaza to replace Hamas and see to the needs of the people there. As I already said, I'm not opposed to any sort of deal that brings more hostages home, but this entire proposal simply doesn't sound plausible. 

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