3:06 pm ET, November 29, 2023
Analysis: Israel and Hamas have much to gain from extending the ceasefire. But the fight would resume anyway
Analysis by CNN’s Nadine Ibrahim
Both Israel and Hamas have much to gain from extending the current ceasefire. But experts say a resumption of Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip is inevitable.
A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas – which saw the militant group release hostages kidnapped on October 7 in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons – has now been entered into. Its sixth and likely final day Still negotiators Working on another extension, It could also see the release of hostages and a continued crackdown on the Israeli military’s campaign in Gaza.
For Israel, an extension would mean the return of tens of thousands more hostages, which is important to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under intense pressure from the Israeli public to bring hostages home. For Hamas, it offers a respite from the fighting, a chance to regroup and benefit from aid as it gradually enters the besieged area.
In the first five days of the ceasefire, Hamas freed 81 hostages, primarily women and children. About 240 hostages were taken during the Hamas attack on Israel.
Israel has released 180 Palestinian women and minors from prison, many of whom have been detained and not charged.
“The main interest (for the Israelis) is to get those hostages home,” Gershon Baskin, a former Israeli hostage negotiator who acted as a conduit for Hamas, told CNN. “The whole country was glued to television as they were transported in Red Cross cars and then landed in Israel.”
For Hamas, Baskin said, there is no need to hold civilians hostage. “It’s a burden on their logistics,” he said, adding that they only want to hold Israeli troops as hostages. Israel has not said how many soldiers are being held by the militant group, but Baskin said there is little expectation that Hamas will release them as part of the current deal.
While Hamas may hope that by extending a cease-fire, international pressure will pile on Israel to avoid a resumption of hostilities, Baskin said Israeli society overwhelmingly supports a conflict that would permanently eliminate Hamas.
A referendum was held earlier this month in Israel Israel Democracy Institute showed The majority of respondents believed that “Israel should immediately negotiate with Hamas regarding the release of hostages in Gaza, but not stop the fighting.”
Some ministers in Israel’s far-right government are going to great lengths to ensure a resumption of fighting. Israel’s National Defense Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir died on TuesdayHe warned to break the ruling coalition If the war is over.
But negotiations can be tricky Hamas says it is not in possession All hostages. CNN previously reported that more than 40 hostages are currently not being held by Hamas, and an estimated 40 to 50 are held by Palestinian Islamic Jihad or other groups or individuals.
Israel 159 hostages are still believed to be in GazaNetanyahu’s office told CNN on Wednesday.
After seven weeks, Baskin said Hamas would not be able to locate the remaining hostages, adding that the group could spread that message to stall negotiations.
“This is a delayed tactic by Hamas,” he said, adding that the group is too powerful and centralized to lose sight of the hostages.
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