War in the Middle East, towards a 4-5 day truce. Haaretz: “Hamas will release 30 children, 8 mothers and 12 women”

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By John

A 4-5 day truce in Gaza and the exchange of prisoners between Israel and Hamas: 50 hostages for 150 Palestinian prisoners. After 46 days of war, a first ceasefire is approaching in the Strip, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu submitting the agreement long mediated by Qatar and Egypt first to the war cabinet and then to the entire national emergency government in the evening. The army, the Mossad and the Shin Bet gave their favorable opinion while the Israeli ultra-right – in particular the ministers Itamar Ben Gvir of Jewish Power and Bezalel Smotrich of Religious Zionism – thundered against the agreement, calling it «a serious mistake », indeed a potential «disaster» for Israel. According to rumors circulating today, only women and children will be released by Hamas. Haaretz reported that 30 minors, 8 mothers and 12 other women are named in the agreement. They will be freed in various phases, about ten each day of truce, with Israel hoping that in the end the total number of hostages released will reach up to 80. Hamas, according to Israeli sources, will undertake during the ceasefire «to locate the other hostages who they are in the hands of various groups”, starting with Islamic Jihad. The Palestinian prisoners, also women and children, will instead be delivered to their residences and in any case the agreement excludes anyone who has been “convicted of murder”. In essence, those who carried out deadly attacks against Israelis. For foreign hostages in the hands of Hamas, the agreement provides that their release will be entrusted to separate negotiations between Hamas and the respective countries to which the kidnapped belong. The truce should start no earlier than Thursday evening or Friday morning and last 4-5 days.

During this period, Israeli soldiers will remain in northern Gaza and civilians displaced in the south will not be allowed to return to their homes in the north. Israel then warned that the army would resume fighting across the Strip “immediately after” the end of the ceasefire. Confirmed, as part of the agreement, the daily entry from the Rafah crossing of 300 vehicles per day, including fuel. Furthermore, during all the days of truce, Israel will suspend – one of the conditions set by Hamas – the flight of drones over the Strip. But other intelligence measures will be ensured to safeguard the safety of the soldiers. “I hope we will have good news soon,” Netanyahu said before cabinet meetings. «We are making progress. I don’t think it’s appropriate to add anything else at this time”, the Israeli prime minister cut short. “We are very close to bringing some of the hostages home, the situation is good”, confirmed US President Joe Biden from Washington who for days had said he was optimistic about the outcome of the negotiations. The possible agreement was announced overnight by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. If optimism for the hostages prevails, the agreement threatens to have repercussions on the balance of the Israeli governing coalition given the sharp rejection of the far-right. But Netanyahu – thanks to the recent expansion of the executive to include centrist Benny Gantz – still has the numbers necessary to pass the agreement. Meanwhile, on the ground, an Israeli raid on the Nuseirat refugee camp, south of Gaza, caused 17 deaths, including women and children, as reported by the Palestinian agency Wafa. The situation in the north with Hezbollah is also increasingly tense, with the launch of rockets by Shiite militiamen and response attacks in southern Lebanon: on the bloodiest day on this side since the beginning of the conflict, four people died under Israeli bombs civilians (an elderly woman, two journalists and a very young reporter) and a group of Hamas militiamen.