Benny Gantzcease fireFeaturedGaza-Israel warHamashostagesIsrael

End the War and Return All Hostages Now, Demand … Gazans? – HotAir

This may be a first signal that the Gazans have had enough of Hamas — and that Hamas can’t hide it with threats any longer. A crowd of mostly Palestinian women and children protested outside the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza, in a town roughly halfway between Gaza City and the embattled Khan Younis. The loud protests demanded that Yahya Sinwar end the war and return the Israeli hostages immediately:

This comes from the IDF’s Arab-media spokesman. The town of Deir al-Balah is within the areas of Gaza controlled by the IDF, far enough north of Khan Younis that it’s almost certainly devoid of any significant Hamas presence at the moment. That makes it possible for demonstrations such as these to take place. The translation, via Google:

The leaders of [Hamas], led by Al-Sinwar, listened to the cries of your people, your children and women, who came out in this spontaneous demonstration inside Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, expressing their indignation at the situation you pushed Gaza into and demanding that you return the kidnapped Israelis to their homes so that the war stops. Will these cries and demands reach the hideouts of Hamas leaders?

As Just the News notes, these demonstrations against Hamas have been rare, mainly because of Hamas’ brutal repression of any dissent:

A crowd mostly of Palestinian women and children gathered outside of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, located in the central Gazan city of Deir al-Balah, the video shows, as they expressed anger at Hamas leaders over the war with Israel. The demonstrators demanded Hamas end the war and return the remaining 110 hostages who were kidnapped from Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

The rare public demonstration against Hamas comes as the conflict has forced many Gazans to evacuate their homes amid reported food shortages.

Demonstrations like these may dampen any calls for a hostage swap deal, as rumors have flown in the last day or two of possible agreements emerging. Don’t listen to rumors, Benny Gantz advised in a televised speech to Israelis today, in which the war cabinet poured gallons of cold water on media reports of a new hostage-swap deal.

“We are more united and determined than ever,” said the longtime political opponent of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And that means Israel will continue to focus on its mission to destroy Hamas, and won’t accept a deal that leaves them in Gaza:

“The map of bereaved families of the state of Israel was painted yesterday with an additional 24 instances proving the cost of existence and the strength of an army that comes from the people. Our responsibility is to ensure that their sacrifices don’t leave us with waves of memory but of action,” he said. “May the lesson to those who hurt us be that we are more united and more determined than ever.” …

“Over the last few days, we have witnessed a trend of leaks on the subject of the hostage release process outline that are tormenting the families and the nation and are harming the tremendous efforts that are being invested in the process,” said Gantz, referring to rumors and news that was spread about potential hostage deal conditions.

“Returning the hostages is not just a goal on the timeline of the war, but a moral duty of the state. This goal is urgent and doesn’t conflict with the commitment to remove the unrelenting threat of Hamas. We will never give up this goal.”

Having Gantz deliver this message has some significant political import for the unity government in Jerusalem. Netanyahu is not popular, and calls for a new election are now getting louder as the prospects of a quick conclusion to the war are fading. Demands for more focus on a hostage deal with Hamas are increasing as well, so Netanyahu needs support from his political opponents to successfully counter those demands with appeals for commitment to victory over their genocidal enemies in Gaza.

It’s not just Gantz and Netanyahu that are dousing the rumors, either. A number of sources within the unity government have let Hebrew-language media outlets know that the government is united on the position that the IDF will not withdraw before dismantling the military capabilities of Hamas in Gaza:

Unnamed diplomatic officials cited by various Hebrew media sources said any reports of breakthroughs in talks are “fake,” and that the gaps between the sides are actually widening.

“Reports of an agreement in principle to a ceasefire are not correct. There are very large gaps and there is no advancement in talks,” an Israeli official was quoted as telling the Ynet news site. “It’s very complicated. Hamas is constantly hardening its position.”

Similar comments were carried by every mainstream Hebrew-language news outlet, indicated they likely carried the government’s imprimatur.

Some of the rumor-making came in the other direction. After Israel flat-out rejected a “permanent cease-fire” demand from Hamas (whatever that means from Hamas’ track record of violations), Hamas reportedly softened that demand:

Officials of Palestinian militant group Hamas have told international mediators that they are open to discussing a deal to release some of the kidnapped Israelis they are holding hostage in exchange for a significant pause in fighting, Egyptian officials said Tuesday.

The overture marks a significant shift by Hamas, which for weeks has insisted it would only negotiate on hostages as part of a comprehensive agreement that would lead to a permanent end to the war that has engulfed Gaza since Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israel says 1,200 people were killed in the attacks and over 240 taken hostage.

That’s what Hamas explicitly rejected earlier this week, though. And it’s not a comprehensive exchange either; Hamas only offered to exchange the civilians for a disproportionate number of Palestinian prisoners, apparently including some of the 10/7 terrorists. They also want a three-month pause, ostensibly to allow Gazans to return to their homes in the north, but also to reconstitute its fighting forces for the next phase of the war. And all this while keeping dozens of Israeli hostages, no less.

Either this differs significantly from what the Israelis are hearing from “Egyptian officials,” or the terms have shifted unfavorably since. The difference could either be propagandizing (by Hamas and/or Israel, although Hamas’ track record on reliability is far worse), or media wishcasting. It could be some of both, but what we know is that the Israelis have different terms than what’s being reported, and that those terms are unacceptable. It seems doubtful that the Israeli public, even that part that wants hostage releases as the highest priority, would settle for a partial release.

The best way to get all the hostages back is to keep the pressure on Hamas, which never should have kidnapped them in the first place. Perhaps that point should be kept foremost in mind in these discussions. Even the Gazans agree on that point — when they are allowed to express themselves.

Source link