Is Peace Possible? Inside the Ticking Time Bomb of Israel-Hamas Ceasefire!



by FARUK IMAMOVIC

Is Peace Possible? Inside the Ticking Time Bomb of Israel-Hamas Ceasefire!
© Getty Images News/Amir Levy

Israel and Hamas, long-standing adversaries, have entered what appears to be a fleeting truce. This pause in hostilities, now in its sixth day, has brought a temporary halt to Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip and initiated a hostage exchange that holds both promise and uncertainty.

A Delicate Balance

The current ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is a complex affair, marked by cautious optimism on both sides. For Israel, the truce presents an opportunity to secure the return of a significant number of hostages – a pressing issue for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces considerable domestic pressure to bring Israeli captives home.

The Israeli public's demand for their safe return has been a driving force behind the government's negotiation efforts. On the other side, Hamas views the ceasefire as a chance to breathe and regroup. The beleaguered territory has been gradually receiving aid, a lifeline for its inhabitants who have endured prolonged conflict.

The truce has seen Hamas release 81 hostages, mostly women and children, from the total of around 240 taken during their attack on Israel. In a reciprocal gesture, Israel has freed 180 Palestinian women and minors, many of whom were detained without charges.

The Negotiation Quagmire

Negotiations, however, are fraught with complexities. While both parties work towards extending the ceasefire, the fate of numerous hostages remains uncertain. Notably, former Israeli hostage negotiator Gershon Baskin emphasized the importance of returning hostages for Israelis, citing the nation's collective anxiety and hope as they watch their compatriots return.

For Hamas, the decision to hold or release hostages is a strategic one. Baskin points out that civilian hostages are a logistical burden for Hamas, which likely prefers to keep Israeli soldiers. The number of Israeli soldiers in Hamas' custody remains undisclosed, and their release seems improbable in the current deal.

Furthermore, international pressure plays a crucial role. Hamas may hope that the truce extension increases global scrutiny on Israel, potentially averting the resumption of hostilities. In contrast, a significant portion of Israeli society, backed by some government officials, advocates for a decisive end to the conflict, even if it means renewing the war.

Complications arise with reports that not all hostages are under Hamas' control. Over 40 hostages are believed to be held by other groups, casting doubt on the feasibility of a comprehensive resolution.