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The Gaza War: Israel wants more hostages released—without ending the conflict!

The Gaza War: Israel wants more hostages released—without ending the conflict!

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Virendra Pandit

 

New Delhi: Around 108 days after the ongoing Gaza War began, Israel is reported to be pushing for a deal with the Hamas terrorists for the release of the remaining hostages—without ending the war—as its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under severe pressure at home and overseas.

According to the media reports on Tuesday, a senior US diplomat is visiting Egypt and Qatar to broker a deal as the angry public’s pressure is mounting on the PM to bring captives home soon.

The war, which started on October 7, 2023, has already claimed around 25,000 lives and wounded many more.

A weeklong truce in November 2023, saw the release of about 100 of the nearly 240 captives taken into Gaza on October 7 when Hamas launched a surprise attack inside Israel. Efforts to put another pause or even ceasefire in place have been stuttering since.

Now, Israel has reportedly drafted a proposal for a two-month truce to secure the release of the remaining captives held by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups but without ending the war in Gaza, the media reported.

The American and Israeli media reported late on Monday that Israel is optimistic about concluding a deal with the help of the US. The plan comes against a backdrop of intensified combat in southern Gaza as well as mounting pressure on the Israeli government to bring the captives home.

US website Axios quoted Israeli officials as saying that the proposal has been presented to Hamas through Qatari and Egyptian mediators. It includes a two-month truce during which all Israeli detainees in Gaza will be released.

Israel’s Channel 13 reported the principles of the deal consist of three to four stages of captive release. Meanwhile, the Israeli military would withdraw from some areas of the enclave, but without ending the war.

Reports suggest that the US is pushing the plan with regional partners. The White House’s Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk, is now in Cairo to discuss the deal, with plans to continue to Qatar.

Reports said the proposal included plans to release captives in phases, starting with women and those over 60 years of age.

A second phase would see a handover of female soldiers and men deemed as non-soldiers by Hamas. The third phase would include male soldiers and bodies remaining inside Gaza.

In Israel, the families of the captives have been applying increasing pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to agree on a deal. Amid the ongoing bombardment of Gaza, they worry that time is running out to bring their relatives home alive.

On Monday, dozens of relatives stormed a parliamentary committee meeting in Tel Aviv, demanding that the government seek a deal to win their loved ones’ release.

But Israel is facing mounting impatience as it ignores calls to scale back its onslaught.

The European Union (EU) on Monday gave Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz short shrift as he pitched the construction of an artificial island in the Mediterranean near the Gaza coast as a hub for the enclave’s commercial relations with the rest of the world.

Despite political pressure and demands from hardline coalition partners, however, Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to press ahead with the offensive until Hamas is eliminated.

The reports of the truce negotiations come amid an intensification of fighting in southern Gaza, with the hundreds of civilian casualties adding to the death toll in the enclave, which local authorities now say tops 25,000.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said on Tuesday that its headquarters in Khan Younis had been shelled.

Writing on X, the NGO said that the shelling coincided with “intense gunfire from Israeli drones, causing injuries among internally displaced individuals who sought safety on our premises.”

UN agencies and aid groups have sounded the alarm about the growing threat of disease and famine in Gaza, where 1.7 million people are estimated to have been displaced from their homes.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military reported it lost at least 21 soldiers in one of the deadliest attacks on its troops since the war began.

 

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