Israel announces cease-fire deal with Hamas; release of dozens of hostages imminent | USA TODAY

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Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in “Israel announces cease-fire deal with Hamas; release of dozens of hostages imminent: Updates” |an article written by John Bacon Jorge L. Ortiz Michael James – Originally published in USA Today.

Israel’s Cabinet announced a cease-fire deal with Hamas early Wednesday that would bring a temporary halt to the conflict and release dozens of hostages in a prisoner swap between the two sides.

Under the deal, Hamas would free 50 of the roughly 240 hostages it is holding in the Gaza Strip over a four-day period, the Israeli government said Wednesday. It said it would extend the lull by an additional day for every 10 hostages released.

Most of those to be freed are women and children. The hostages would be released in exchange for Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

“The Israeli government is committed to the return of all abductees home,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “Tonight, the government approved the outline for the first stage of achieving this goal, according to which at least 50 abductees – women and children – will be released for 4 days, during which there will be a lull in the fighting. The release of every ten additional abductees will result in an additional day of respite.”

He also made it clear in an earlier statement that the deal is only a temporary measure. “We are at war, and we will continue the war,” he said. “We will continue until we achieve all our goals.” High among them, he said, is that “Gaza will not threaten Israel.” He said Israel would resume its offensive against Hamas after the cease-fire expires.

Hamas, via the Telegram encrypted messaging app, confirmed the cease-fire and the terms.

“After difficult and complex negotiations for many days, we announce, with the help and success of God Almighty, that we have reached a humanitarian truce agreement (temporary ceasefire) for a period of four days,” according to the statement.

But the statement concluded with similar sentiment as the Israeli statement, namely, that hostilities will eventually resume.

“While we announce the arrival of a truce agreement, we affirm that our hands will remain on the trigger, and our victorious battalions will remain on the lookout to defend our people and defeat the occupation and aggression,” Hamas said in the message.

The deal came after an intense day of diplomatic discussions across the globe. President Joe Biden credited his team of security advisers for playing a key role in the release of hostages, including three Americans.

“As President, I have no higher priority than ensuring the safety of Americans held hostage around the world,” Biden said. “That’s why – from the earliest moments of Hamas’s brutal assault – my national security team and I have worked closely with regional partners to do everything possible to secure the release of our fellow citizens.”

John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, warned that some of the hostages may be in poor physical condition and “it could take hours if not days” to get them released safely once the deal is in place.

Militants crashing across the border from Gaza on Oct. 7 killed more than 1,200 Israelis and took 240 people back as hostages, Israeli authorities say. Four hostages have been released and one was freed by Israeli troops. Israel’s ensuing military campaign has killed more than 11,000 Palestinians, the Gaza Health Ministry says.


∎ U.S. personnel sustained minor injuries when militants attacked the al-Asad military base in western Iraq, U.S. officials said, adding the facility was damaged. Iran-allied militant groups have launched more than 60 attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17.

∎ The World Health Organization said one of its staff members, 29-year-old patient administrator Dima Abdullatif Mohammed Alhaj, was killed along with her husband, their 6-month-old boy and her two brothers when her parents’ house in southern Gaza was bombed. They had evacuated there from Gaza City, the WHO said.

∎ The Israeli military said it had found militants hiding in three tunnel shafts during a battle in the area of Jabaliya, home to a densely populated refugee camp just outside Gaza City.

∎ Two journalists with Al-Mayadeen TV were killed by an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon, according to Lebanese officials and the Pan-Arab network, which is aligned with the Hezbollah militant group that has been fighting Israel in that area.

∎ The European Union will continue providing financial aid to Palestinians after an investigation found no money has been diverted to Hamas, according to EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis.

∎ Four people, including three doctors, were killed when al-Awda hospital was struck amid intense fighting Tuesday in the Jabaliya refugee camp, hospital director Ahmed Mahna told Al-Jazeera TV. The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders confirmed that two of the doctors killed worked for the group.

∎ The International Committee of the Red Cross said it is standing by to assist any swap in the Israel-Hamas war. “Currently, we are actively engaged in talks with the parties to help carry out any humanitarian agreement they reach,” the Red Cross said.

‘Self-silencing’: For Palestinians, talking about Hamas comes with hazards

Qatar confirms cease-fire deal; Israeli president calls deal ‘painful’

In a statement early Wednesday, Qatar confirmed the cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry described the talks that led to the agreement as a mediation by Egypt, the United States, and Qatar for a “humanitarian pause.”

The cease-fire will “allow the entry of a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid, including fuel designated for humanitarian needs,” according to the statement.

Following the announcement of the agreement, Israeli President Isaac Herzog called the deal “painful and difficult” in a translated post on X, formerly known as Twitter. But Herzog added that he supports Netanyahu’s decision.

“This is a moral and ethical obligation that correctly expresses the Jewish and Israeli value of redeeming captives and I hope that it will be a significant first step to return all the abductees home,” he said in the post.

Israeli official says court appeals could delay hostage release

An Israeli government official said Tuesday that, while a hostage deal is under consideration by senior Cabinet members, an appeal of any agreement to the nation’s Supreme Court could delay the release of Hamas captives by 24 hours or longer.

“If and when the government approves that deal, there will be a 24-hour period in which families of victims of the terrorists who may be released as part of that deal are able to apply to the Supreme Court. There is a measure of judicial review here,” Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy told CNN.

Levy said the right of families to appeal exists “because we are talking about prisoners who have been convicted on terrorism charges, not directly on charges of murder but on terrorism charges. And there are families in Israel who have lost loved ones because of those acts of terrorism.”

The spokesman said Israel officials hope to overcome such hurdles and “bring our hostages home, and then we’ll be able to continue putting more pressure on Hamas in order to get the rest of them out.”

− Josh Meyer

Expert sees benefits, downfalls for both sides in deal

Israeli minister warns against making hostage deal

A deal that would free hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for the release of Palestinians in Israeli prisons could end in “disaster,” Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said. The far-right minister cited a 2011 deal that saw Israel release more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006. Among those released in the deal was Yahya Sinwar, thought to be a key mastermind of the Hamas rampage Oct. 7.

“We let out Sinwar and his friends and brought this trouble upon ourselves,” Ben-Gvir said.

On Tuesday, the Hebrew-language The Marker business daily reported the U.S. has delayed sending 4,500 M-16 rifles to Israel out of concerns Ben-Gvir would use them to arm settlers in the West Bank − which has seen a surge of violence against Palestinians − and for political gain.

Pro-Palestinian student group sues Florida Gov. DeSantis

A pro-Palestinian student group at the University of South Florida has filed suit against Gov. Ron DeSantis and other top state officials after the state university system “deactivated” the Students for Justice in Palestine. The students, represented by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, accused officials of attempting to strip them of their right to free speech. The deactivation order, issued Oct. 24 by schools Chancellor Ray Rodrigues, cited the group’s Hamas resistance “toolkit” stating that Palestinian students in exile “are part of this movement.”

The ACLU filed a similar suit on behalf of the same student group’s chapter at the University of Florida.

“Let us be real, in Florida student groups that express criticism of Israel’s government are neither antisemitic nor are they terror supporters,” CAIR-Florida lawyer Omar Saleh said. “We don’t believe the government can legally ban USF’s SJP for criticisms that it merely dislikes.”

Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in “Israel announces cease-fire deal with Hamas; release of dozens of hostages imminent: Updates” |an article written by John Bacon Jorge L. Ortiz Michael James – Originally published in USA Today.

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamed
Avi Melamed is an expert on current affairs in the Arab & Muslim World and their impact on Israel & the Middle East. A former Israeli Intelligence Official & Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence & Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities & communities - often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. He is the Founder & CEO of Inside the Middle East | Intelligence Perspectives - an apolitical non-partisan curriculum using intelligence methodology to examine the Middle East. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides Intelligence Analysis, Briefings, and Geopolitical Tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policymakers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs.

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