Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to destroy the Hamas movement, “above and below ground”, and to return all those abducted in the Gaza Strip, on the fifth day of the humanitarian truce, which includes the exchange of the fifth group of prisoners. and detained between Israel and Hamas, a day also marked by American – Qatari – Egyptian efforts aimed at prolonging the ceasefire and expanding the volume of trade.
Netanyahu, who visited the Military Intelligence Service’s technical intelligence gathering unit, said: “We are committed to completing our tasks; “Release all kidnapped people, destroy Hamas above and below ground and ensure that Gaza will never pose a threat to Israel.”
Netanyahu’s speech came after a phone call with the head of the Mossad, David Barnea, in Doha, where he had arrived to meet the director of the CIA, William Burns, and the prime minister of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman bin Jassim Al Thani, to discuss war, truce and agreements. Exchange. Cairo News television reported that the head of Egyptian intelligence is also participating in ongoing discussions in Qatar on the continuation of the truce.
A senior Israeli official said Barnea’s visit to Qatar was part of Israeli efforts to “free more Israeli citizens (in Gaza), within the framework of the current armistice agreement.”
Israel wants to proceed with a humanitarian truce lasting up to 10 days, during which it will recover all the women and children, and then resume the war with greater force to force Hamas to make a deal on the captured soldiers, but Hamas wants a longer truce and is ready for a comprehensive agreement that includes an end to the war, provided that Israeli prisons of Palestinian prisoners are whitewashed.
Sources close to Hamas told Asharq Al-Awsat that the movement is working to reach all the women and children in Gaza and hand them over until all the children and women have ended up in Israeli prisons, and then proceed to release the elderly and other civilians. , in exchange for prisoners and a prolonged truce. The issue of soldiers will be left aside unless a major agreement is reached that provides for the release of all Palestinian prisoners, especially those sentenced to life imprisonment, and an end to the war.
In this context, the Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday that the American-Israeli-Egyptian-Qatari talks in Doha initially focused on extending the truce in Gaza for another three days in exchange for the release of ten detainees per day in the Gaza Strip . The newspaper added, citing senior Egyptian officials, saying they are pressing Qatar to implement a longer truce in hopes of turning it into a permanent ceasefire, and that the next stages of releasing detainees after women and children will include men elderly, followed by the delivery of the bodies of the deceased prisoners. The newspaper quoted an American official as saying that the American side stressed the need to maintain the current level of aid or increase it when the truce ends.
According to the newspaper, Egyptian and Qatari officials stressed the importance of pushing to start talks on a permanent truce that would end the war completely. Officials said any long-term ceasefire would likely require Israel and Hamas to make hard-to-accept concessions, such as exchanging Israeli soldiers for numbers of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons that could reach thousands. Officials said this would require Israel to curb its attack on southern Gaza with the aim of controlling the Strip and eliminating the Hamas leadership. But officials said the current temporary truce is working to build the kind of trust needed to move forward.
The resumption of war is a question of time
With negotiations at a point where they will become extremely complex, both sides realize that it is only a matter of time before the war resumes.
Israeli Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy confirmed Tuesday that “the Israeli army is preparing to continue fighting in Gaza” and that it is “taking advantage of the days of the period of temporary suspension of military activities to learn, improve preparation and approve operational plans for the subsequent phases”.
He added in a recorded speech: “So far, 76 abductees have been returned to their homes. But there are children, girls, women, civilians and soldiers and women who have been kidnapped by Hamas, a cruel and ruthless terrorist organization, and who have not yet returned. We feel very relieved that all the abducted people have returned, but we are concerned that some remain there. We will work to bring them all back.”
He added: “The return of the kidnapped people is a point of light for all of us. It is also another testimony to the results of great military pressure and high-quality ground maneuvers, with which we have created the conditions for the return of our citizens to their homes. We will continue to do so.”
Before going so far as to resume the war, the United States made it clear to Israel that it must refrain, to the greatest extent possible, from displacing Palestinians from their homes as the war expands to the southern Gaza Strip. An official administration source said in a briefing to reporters two nights ago: “The scale of displacement we have witnessed cannot be repeated, because there is no humanitarian aid system that can meet the needs that may arise.” He stressed that the United States wants Hamas not to pose a threat to Israel, but the battle in the south must be handled differently.
The truce is in its fifth day
The fifth day of truce saw the completion of the fifth batch of trades. This batch includes the “Al-Qassam Brigades” who handed over Israeli detainees to the Red Cross on Tuesday night, noting that the names of 30 Palestinian prisoners (15 women and 15 children) were published, most of them from Jerusalem (20 ) and the rest from the West Bank and are expected to be released by midnight Tuesday-Wednesday.
The swap deal is expected to be repeated on Wednesday with the same numbers (10 Israelis versus 30 Palestinians), despite the fact that the truce has seen unprecedented violations.
The Al-Qassam Brigades announced on Tuesday that friction had occurred on the ground in the northern Gaza Strip, between their fighters and the Israeli army, due to the “violation” of the temporary humanitarian truce between the two sides. He added: “Our fighters have addressed this violation.”
Israeli occupation forces shot four Palestinians, one of them seriously, in Gaza City as they tried to return to their homes for inspection in the Al-Nasr and Sheikh Radwan neighborhoods.
But the Israeli army spokesman accused Hamas of “violating” the temporary ceasefire in two separate incidents, in which three explosive devices were detonated in the northern Gaza Strip, near Israeli army forces, and in one case was also fired upon by the armed forces. The army admitted that several soldiers were slightly injured.