Netanyahu’s ‘Sacred Mission’–Partial Hamas Hostage Deal And Ceasefire Agreed.

An artist sprays a graffiti for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, in the Jezreel Valley, on October 30, 2023 (photo credit: Anat Hermony/Flash90)
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The Israeli government approved early Wednesday morning a partial exchange of hostages for young prisoners that includes a limited ceasefire in the Gaza war in exchange for a release of up to 80 out of over 239 people seized by terrorists during Hamas’s infiltration of southern Israel on October 7th.

It is believed that US President Joe Biden played a part in bringing the two sides together in negotiations.

It is expected that most of the hostages released by Hamas will be foreigners or children, while the Hamas prisoners released will be juveniles and women.

“I am extraordinarily gratified that some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented,” US President Joe Biden said after the vote, which took place after hours of debate that ran late into the night.

American citizens are among those held hostage and the US has been heavily involved in negotiations for the deal, which is expected to go into effect on Thursday.

“Today’s deal should bring home American hostages and I will not stop until they are all released,” the president said.

Prior to the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that its approval was “difficult” but “correct.”

Families of the hostages have long argued that any deal must include all the captives.

Other opponents of the deal warned that it would harm Israel’s ability to secure the release of all the hostages and complicate Israel’s military campaign to oust Hamas from Gaza.

They also warned that it would be difficult to resume the war once it has been temporarily halted.

Netanyahu dismissed those charges, explaining that the IDF planned to resume the war once the deal was executed.

“I want to clarify. We are at war—and will continue the war until we achieve all of our war aims: To eliminate Hamas, return all of our hostages and our missing,” he said.

“We will also ensure that there won’t be any entity in Gaza that will threaten Israel,” the prime minister stated.

Netanyahu recalled how he and the war cabinet had met with the families of the hostages the previous night.

“I told them that the return of the hostages is a sacred and primary mission that I swore to complete,” he said.

“In war there are stages, and in returning the hostages there are stages, but we will not relent until we achieve absolute victory and until we bring them all back,” Netanyahu said.

“All of the security agencies fully support it” and have explained that “the security of our forces will be ensured during the pause and that the intelligence effort will be maintained in those days,” he stated, adding that “they have made it clear that not only will the war effort not be harmed, but it will enable the IDF to prepare for the continuation of the fighting.”

Mediated by Qatar, the deal will create the first long-term pause in the fighting since Israel embarked on its military campaign to oust the Hamas genocidal terrorist group from Gaza. It also comes amid increased international pressure for a ceasefire.

Under the broad contours of the deal, 50 hostages will gradually be released within the first four days in exchange for a pause in the fighting during those 96 hours.

Some 40 children and 13 mothers are held hostage, but not all of them will be included in the initial group slated for release because Hamas claims that it does not know the location of all the hostages, including the children.

It’s expected that the initial release will include 30 children, eight mothers, and 12 other women, including the elderly whose lives are at risk.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group announced late on Tuesday the death of one of the elderly Israeli hostages it has held since the October 7 attacks on Israel. Reports online named her as 76-year-old Katzir Hanna, kidnapped from Nir Oz.

The 50 hostages will be freed in small groups during the initial four days of the pause and not all at once.

Israel will in exchange release some 150 Palestinian women and minors held in its jails on security related offenses, but none of them would be those who had directly been involved in terror attacks with fatalities.

There is a possibility for the release of an additional 30 hostages held in Gaza should the pause in the fighting be extended for up to another four days.

“The release of every additional ten hostages will result in one additional day in the pause,” the government stated.

All those slated for release are alive and have Israeli citizenship, an Israeli official told reporters on Tuesday.

Separately, Hamas may unilaterally free those among the hostages who have Thai citizenship. It’s also possible that other governments may work out other deals for their citizens held in Gaza.

During the government meeting, Netanyahu clarified that the deal also included an agreement by which representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross could visit the hostages who remain in captivity and supply them with medicine.

As part of the deal, fuel can also enter Gaza during the pause in the fighting. Israel has until now objected to the entry of fuel to the coastal enclave out of fear that Hamas would seize it for military use.

There will be a six-hour window each day during which IDF aerial surveillance of Gaza will be halted.

“There are other intelligence-gathering capabilities. We will not be blind in those six hours when there are no drones and balloons in the air,” an Israeli official told reporters.

Those Palestinians who fled northern Gaza for the south during the last weeks of fighting will not be allowed to return home during the pause, given that the IDF is expected to resume its military campaign once the pause is ended.

The IDF, the Mossad, and the Shin Bet were in favor of the broad outline of the deal.

The deal has sparked sharp debate within the Israeli public and among coalition politicians, even as the government was expected to pass it.

Hamas welcomed the agreement on Wednesday morning, saying that they will “keep their hands on the trigger.”

The terrorist group, assumed to be holding most of the approximately 240 hostages, said that “after difficult and complex negotiations for many days, we announce, with the help and success of God Almighty, that we have reached a humanitarian truce agreement (temporary ceasefire) for a period of four days, with persistent and appreciated Qatari and Egyptian efforts.”

Hamas stated that the agreement includes the entry of hundreds of trucks of humanitarian aid and fuel to all areas of the Gaza Strip, including the north. The terrorist group added that all Israeli Air Force activity over the southern Gaza Strip would cease for the entirety of the ceasefire, while air traffic over the northern part would be halted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Source: Jerusalem Post.
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