Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

IDF to push Gaza offensive to Rafah; Hamas cease-fire response to come

By 37ci3 Feb 2, 2024



Israel’s War Cabinet is bracing for Hamas’ response to the principles ironed out in Paris on Sunday by CIA Director William Burns, Mossad chief David Barnea, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and a senior Egyptian intelligence official. chief adviser to the war cabinet.

“Everyone is waiting to see Hamas’s reaction,” said the adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, adding that it could take several days.

The adviser said the War Cabinet expects to begin negotiations based on the principles sent to Hamas after Hamas responds.

Israel offered a two-month pause in the fighting to return the hostages, NBC News previously reported, but current and former Israeli officials said no conditions had been set.

According to Professor Jacob Nagel, Israel’s former national security adviser, who is also in the orbit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there are still “wide gaps” between Israel and Hamas regarding the contours of a potential deal.

Hamas has previously demanded that Israel end the war and withdraw all troops from Gaza, that Hamas remain in power in the enclave, and that Israel not make any changes to the Israel-Gaza border.

Nagel, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said there could be a deal if Sinwar gives up his three main demands, namely that he return to October 6.

Netanyahu released a video on Tuesday responding to “rumors” about the deal.

“We are committed to getting a bailout deal, but not at any price. I have red lines,” he said. Among them: we will not end the war, we will not withdraw the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip and we will not release thousands of prisoners.

Hamas is currently fragmented, with leadership geographically split between Doha, Qatar and the Gaza Strip. There are both physical and ideological differences between the political and military wings, making consensus building difficult.

Adding to the logistical obstacles, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, is hiding in Gaza and trying to conceal his communications so that the Israeli military cannot find him.

Nagel said he believed Sinwar would hold some of the pledges forever as an “insurance policy.”

“We also want the deal to be for all hostages, not just the 35 humanitarian detainees,” Nagel said.

Another senior Israeli official said that given all the challenges, it is unclear whether a deal will come together. “I don’t think it will be more than 50/50,” said a senior official.




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