The most likely answer to the title question is, “Probably not.” But Bibi Netanyahu has been under a great deal of domestic pressure to get the rest of the hostages home and a new offer for Hamas has been put on the table. A two-month ceasefire and the release of an unspecified number of additional Palestinian prisoners is being suggested in exchange for the release of all of the surviving hostages and the bodies of the rest. It would be completely out of character for Hamas to suddenly begin acting reasonably, but they might want to consider it given the beating they’ve been taking. More worrisome is the possibility that Netanyahu could be starting to weaken in his resolve to destroy Hamas completely in the face of both domestic and American complaints about the course that the war is taking. (Daily Caller)
Israel is proposing a two-month ceasefire with Hamas in exchange for the release of all remaining hostages in the Gaza Strip, two Israeli officials told Axios Monday.
Israel and Hamas have been in a months-long war in Gaza after the group launched a terrorist attack against the country on Oct. 7, killing over 1,200 civilians dead and kidnapping hundreds of others. Through Qatari and Egyptian negotiators, Israel is now offering Hamas a temporary two-month ceasefire and the release of an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the more than 130 remaining hostages in Gaza, two Israeli officials told Axios.
Meanwhile, the Commander-in-Chief is all over the situation as usual.
Reporter: “Are we expecting a hostage deal [in Gaza] any time soon?”
Reporter: “Oh, really? Okay.”
BIDEN: “Wait. Where?”
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) December 20, 2023
I’m quickly using the #HeadDesk hashtag to the point where it’s threadbare. Not only does the President of the United States have no idea whether or not there will be a hostage deal, but he’s not even sure what part of the world is being discussed when a reporter asks about it.
Hamas, meanwhile, seems fairly resolute in saying that there will be no deal and no further hostages released unless Israel surrenders completely. A Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told reporters there is “no chance” that any further hostages will be released unless the IDF fully withdraws and Israel ends the war entirely. Bibi Netanyahu has similarly described the chances of ending the war without the complete removal of Hamas as being effectively zero.
It’s difficult to see why Hamas would go along with the proposal. Two months would be a lengthy pause, but then the IDF would resume its ongoing efforts to exterminate all of the Hamas fighters and their leadership. What could really be accomplished in two months? Further, they would be surrendering their last bargaining chips, so no further accommodations from the IDF would be likely to emerge. The Israeli offer includes a proposal to “lower the scope of military operations in Gaza” after the two-month pause, but the end objective would be the same. It’s just a question of whether they want to die sooner or later.
It’s also not as if Hamas has given up fighting. They just launched their deadliest attack on the IDF since the counteroffensive began. To be clear, it wasn’t a formation of Hamas troops squaring off against Israeli soldiers. In fact, it could be described as a lucky shot more than anything else. The IDF was rigging explosives to collapse two buildings in central Gaza this morning when Hamas launched a rocket at them, striking a nearby tank and triggering a premature detonation of the explosives. At least 21 Israeli troops were killed.
All of the fight clearly hasn’t been taken out of Hamas yet, though they are obviously on the ropes and their numbers have been severely depleted. That’s not enough, however. Gaza is full of angry Palestinians who will almost certainly put on uniforms and take up arms if Hamas is allowed to remain and they put out the call. If Bibi Netanyahu backs down now on his promise to eliminate Hamas entirely, all of this may have been for nothing. The situation with the hostages is a tragedy, but Hamas brought all of this on themselves and on Gaza on October 7. We can’t afford to lose sight of that reality.