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June 16, 2024

Israel Rejects Hamas Conditions for Hostage Deal

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Jan 21, 2024

Netanyahu Says Surrender Not An Option

According to reports, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected Hamas’ demands for an outright surrender by Israel in exchange for two Israeli citizens held hostage since October. Netanyahu stated “I reject the inhumane conditions of the Hamas terror group. They demand that we lay down our arms, withdraw from the West Bank, release all Palestinian prisoners… and enable unfettered armament. In effect, they demand our surrender and that we fall.”

Hamas is holding hostage two Israeli civilians captured during an attack on the Gaza border on October 7th last year during which one Israeli soldier was killed. The two civilians were performing maintenance work on the Gaza border fence when they were captured.

Hamas Sets High Price for Hostage Release

According to sources, Hamas has set a high price for the release of the two hostages, demanding:

  • Israel withdraw all forces from the West Bank
  • Release of all Palestinian prisoners
  • $50 million in cash
  • Unrestricted armament allowance into Gaza

Experts see this as an attempt by Hamas to regain leverage after failing to secure gains during nearly 3 months of conflict with Israel that has left Gaza in ruins.

“”Hamas entered this latest clash with high hopes but are exiting with none of their strategic objectives achieved. They are now trying to salvage some bargaining chips,” said COGAT Major Gen Guy Goldstein.

Israel Faces Difficult Choice

Israel now faces a difficult choice between acceding to Hamas’ demands or risking the lives of the hostages by refusing them. The hostages, Alpa Kampinski, 26, and Benjamin Moreno, 19, have appeared in video appeals pleading with the Israeli government to meet Hamas’ demands for their release.

As tensions rise within Netanyahu’s war cabinet over the hostage crisis, some officials believe Israel’s bar for agreeing to concessions should be high given the lack of remaining pressure points for Hamas after its military defeat.

“Hamas entered this conflict with a long wish list. They have achieved none of it. We must not throw them a lifeline now when they are drowning,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Barak.

Hamas Demands
Complete withdrawal from West Bank
Release of Palestinian prisoners
$50 million payment
Unlimited armament into Gaza

However Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi warn that public opinion could turn against the government if the hostages are not returned safely.

“”There is a strategic opportunity here for Israel in that Hamas is on its backfoot. But the fate of the hostages risks uniting Palestinians behind Hamas once again,” General Kohavi told Netanyahu’s war cabinet.

Egypt Attempts to Broker Deal

According to reports, Egypt is attempting to broker a compromise agreement between the two sides to secure the release of the Israeli hostages. Egyptian negotiators are trying to find a middle-ground that allows both sides to save face after nearly three months of bloody warfare.

Key players trying to hammer out a hostage deal include Egyptian spy chief Abbas Kamel, Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi, UN Middle East Envoy Tor Wennesland, US envoy Hady Amr.

“There is a narrow path here to a deal that all parties may be able to stomach,” said an unnamed Egyptian official involved in the talks.

Public Divisions Emerge Within Israel’s War Cabinet

Meanwhile, tensions around the hostage crisis have led to increasing public divisions emerging within Israel’s security cabinet charged with managing the conflict.

According to reports, Generals and security chiefs have gone public with criticisms of Netanyahu’s management of the war. Ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Benny Gantz broke protocol to demand Israel agree to a ceasefire, partly to secure the release of the two hostages. There is speculation that Israel’s historic leadership could pay the political price for the drawn-out Gaza campaign.

“”Netanyahu has managed most conflicts well in his long tenure. But there is a brittleness to his leadership on this one,” said former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin.

Critics argue Netanyahu has been distracted by his ongoing corruption trial and failed to articulate a clear strategic objective for the drawn-out Gaza campaign dubbed “Operation Dawn’s Early Light.” They accuse him of drifting into an open-ended war of attrition to satisfy hardline allies, despite unpopularity of the campaign among the Israeli public.

“”He has tried to placate the hawks in his cabinet to cling onto power, but risks fracturing national leadership,” said former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Pressure Builds on Netanyahu

As the civilian death toll mounts in Gaza, pressure is building on Netanyahu domestically and from Israel’s allies to resolve the hostage crisis. Israel faces allegations of war crimes from rights groups. Meanwhile the hostage crisis means the IDF war campaign will struggle to come to a definitive end.

“”We are seeing mission creep towards an unsustainable operation with no ultimate goal,” Gantz told journalists. “It is emboldening Hamas and weakening political leadership in Israel.”

US officials have urged Netanyahu to wrap up the operation.

““We have provided unprecedented support for Israel’s right to self-defense. But this situation can only be resolved through creativity and compromise from Israeli leadership,” said US Secretary of State Eric Levine.

Hamas Claims “Divine Victory”

Despite having achieved none of its military objectives after 82 days of combat, Hamas continues to claim victory in the conflict.

“”We have had a divine victory over the occupation army and forced divisions in the Zionist leadership,” said Hamas deputy leader Dr Khalil Al-Hayya, claiming fighting had reached a “new balance of power.”

“”All the objectives of the Palestinian resistance have been achieved in this battle, even if Zionists continue to deny this victory”.

In a further show of defiance he claimed Hamas rockets could now “reach all cities in occupied Palestine” and threatened “the resistance continues across Palestine, whether Zionists end the aggression or not”.

Uncertain Outcome of Hostage Negotiations

With world leaders converging on the region to try and broker an end to the conflict, the outcome of the hostage negotiations remains uncertain. Some experts believe Hamas has overplayed its hand by demanding too much, others warn the hostage crisis could lead to further unpredictable escalations in violence on both sides.

Either way, ordinary citizens across Israel and Gaza continue to endure immense suffering with no end in sight. Both the UV Israeli government and Hamas appear trapped by their own rhetoric and the demands of their political allies. With world powers struggling to calm tensions, a peaceful resolution seems ever more elusive. The fate of the hostages and a ceasefire may come down to who blinks first.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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