Hostages in exchange for truce

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Sponsor of Hamas and headquarters of the largest US military base in the region, the intriguing absolutist monarchy of Qatar yesterday leaked the offer to release between 12 and 15 hostages, of which six would be Americans, in exchange for a high the fire for between one and three days in Gaza.

Qatari sources indicate that the US supports the operation and is aware of the details. “Hamas only has one asset in this war: the hostages,” an Israeli Arab source with experience in this type of negotiations told us days ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu echoed the issue, without mentioning it, in a meeting with West Bank settlers. “I would like to dismiss all sorts of vain rumors that come to us from all sides and clearly repeat one thing: there will be no ceasefire without the release of our hostages. All the rest is futile,” he noted. The question is whether a handful of hostages – not two or three – could fit within that framework of firmness.

Qatar was the architect of the only four hostage releases to date, in October, four women in two batches, and has been negotiating new cases given its close relationship with the Hamas leadership, which resides in Doha and its sustained economic support from the day by day of the strip since Hamas took complete control in 2007 (80% of the civil servants' payrolls were normally paid by Qatar).

According to Israel, those kidnapped number 240, of which 32 are children, some months old.

Double-digit hostage numbers could fit Netanyahu's demand for a temporary ceasefire

A negotiating source close to Hamas, cited by the France Presse agency, points out that the main obstacle is the duration of the humanitarian truce and the territory it would include (Hamas intends it to cover the northern half, where Israeli troops are in full offensive). and have bagged Gaza City).

To date, the Government of Israel maintains that there will only be a ceasefire with the release of “our hostages”, an argument that allows us to say no to everything and return the ball humanitarian to those who send it to the prime minister. Time and time again, Israeli spokespersons reply to media questions and adverse external statements that “their” hostages do not have any assistance or visits from the International Red Cross.

The hostages are very present in Israel's daily life, thanks to a spectacular and modern mobilization of their families and the private groups that support their cause. What of civil society It has all the meaning and prominence in Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's theory regarding the relatives is that the more powerful the military offensive, the more likely they are to be released, another paradox in a region plagued by them, as evoked by the very role of Qatar - partner at the same time. from the US and Hamas.

For Hamas, the 240 kidnapped people of more than twenty nationalities – including Russians, a country friendly to the organization – are the only apparent asset and the only bargaining chip for Hamas. whiten their atrocities of October 7 before the world. Hamas' successive calls to its allies in Hizbullah - the pro-Iranian militia that dominates southern Lebanon - to create a second military front are not being supported with the force they expected. And militarily, Israeli superiority guarantees, sooner or later, the decapitation of Hamas in Gaza. Neither Arab government nor Iran has advocated that they could have any role in post-war Gaza. They seem already amortized...

Without the support from Hizbullah that it expected, Hamas has its only asset in the hostages

Diplomatic sources in Tel Aviv indicate that a ceasefire in this context requires very meticulous negotiations to prevent a non-compliance from ending up adding more fuel to the fire and resuming the war with more ferocity. Egypt indicated yesterday that it is prepared to increase humanitarian aid as long as it is authorized. A United Nations spokesperson points out that the water coming from Egypt covers the needs of 4% of the population of Gaza. Among the holders of dual nationalities, after Israeli verification, a hundred Romanians left through Rafah yesterday.

The Israeli army assures that the military offensive is progressing in Gaza City and its balance includes the destruction of 130 tunnels thanks to engineering teams and the elimination of another second-rank Hamas leader, Abu Zina, while its casualties amount to 33 soldiers dead. The macabre tally of Palestinian deaths in Gaza rises to 10,569 dead, according to Hamas. This is not the Six Day War...

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