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Continuing the attack: Hamas is not compromising

IDF in Gaza

In the past week, Israel returned to the negotiating table for the release of the hostages held by Hamas, when Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed that he had given the Israeli delegation a particularly broad mandate and a large space for additional concessions, in light of the great internal and media pressure to reach the deal. In the previous round of talks, which took place in mid-April, Israel offered Hamas a partial withdrawal of its forces from the Gaza Strip, the release of hundreds of prisoners, and a long-term ceasefire of several months (according to news reports); it is hard to imagine what additional concessions Israel can make to Hamas that do not seriously damage Israeli strategy.

But as then, so today: Hamas adheres to its only demand that Israel can accept in no way –  A Complete end of the war. As the Hamas spokesman has said: “We have informed the mediators of our clear position that if the occupation stops the war and the aggression against our people in Gaza, we will be prepared to reach an entire agreement that includes a comprehensive prisoner exchange deal.” And so the negotiations are once again at a dead end, and it makes it clear to Israeli decision-makers that as long as the ultimate goal of the war is the destruction of Hamas’ military capabilities, there is no hope in continuing the discussion with the terrorist organization, at least until it agrees to compromise – something that we can contribute through leverage and pressure.

And if we are dealing with pressure levers, recently it was announced that Israel has offered the Palestinian Authority joint control of the Rafah crossing together with representatives from the European Union, under Israeli supervision. This will enable the movement of goods and people, prevent the smuggling of weapons, and weaken Hamas’ power in the Gaza Strip, at the expense of the Palestinian Authority. The PA has not yet officially responded to the proposal; for now, Israel is continuing its military action in Rafah in full force, and is operating in the city center despite international pressure. Yesterday it was reported that two soliders were killed in the fighting – one in Rafah and one in Jabaliya: Adar Gabriel, 24, and Jonathan Elias, 20. The price is hard, but the goal is right.

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