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A breakthrough in negotiations with Hamas – on the way to a deal

Credit: Hostage Family Forum

After many months of strong fighting in the Gaza Strip, during which negotiations took place, rising and falling between Israel and Hamas, in order to promote a deal to liberate the hostages, It seemed that the distances between the sides were too great for mediation – yet for the first time a breakthrough brought the parties closer to the threshold of the deal, when Hamas to give up the basic term it had set up so far – the end of the war. This was a condition that Israel could not accept, naturally.

Is it the increase in military pressure on Rafah that led Hamas to change its positions? This is unlikely, since the IDF and the government have already announced their intention to reduce the pressure in the near future, and in recent weeks we have not known of serious harm the organization received. Rather, it may be a reversed decision – because after all, Hamas fears that no deal will be made and the prisoners will remain in their hands – as this does not bring them any real achievement, other than hard feelings among the Israeli public and prolonged international pressure. Hamas understands that this deal will not be a final and comprehensive deal, and the terrorist organization may be willing to give up some of its cards for tactical and not necessarily strategic achievements.

What are the tactical achievements Hamas will receive for the prisoners? According to the proposed deal, there will be 6 weeks of ceasefire, during which 32 Israeli hostages will be released, in the category of ‘humanitarian’ (women, children, old people), some alive and some dead – in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian terrorists (some living and some dead). From the 16th day of the deal, the parties will begin negotiations for the second stage, during which additional hostages will be released in exchange for serious commitments, such as the end of the war. Until last week, Hamas demanded an Israeli commitment to end the war in any situation, while now Hamas seems to accept that the negotiations in the deal could fail, and the war will resume.

There are other stages on the way, and the negotiations for the final deal are expected to take several weeks. The head of the Mossad, who went to discuss the matter, said that “the gaps are still large,” and that there was still much work to be done; however, there seems to be reason to be optimistic about the return of some of the hostages in the near future. In addition, this is a conscious victory for Israel, which caused Hamas to blink first.

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