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an agreement finally announced to free Israeli hostages in Gaza – Libération

An agreement between Israel and Hamas was finally announced this Tuesday evening, November 21. Israeli hostages are expected to be released in a truce lasting four or five days, in exchange for the release of 150 to 300 Palestinian women and children held by Israel.

Three meetings in three hours, at the highest Israeli level – war council, security council and government – ​​to formalize a hostage release agreement. Expected and hoped for several days, it was announced at 10 p.m. Tuesday, November 21. It was the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who took charge of doing this, specifying that these releases would be carried out in stages. He said US President Joe Biden helped improve the deal to include more hostages.

All day long, optimistic declarations followed one another in Doha, where the United States, Egypt and Qatar are trying to negotiate the release of hostages held since October 7 by Hamas and other groups of the gang. of Gaza in exchange for those of Palestinian prisoners and the establishment of a truce. Tuesday morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar mentioned negotiations “in the final stages”. “(Hamas has) delivered its response to the Qatari brothers and the mediators. We are getting closer to concluding a truce agreement,” For his part, the head of the organization’s political office, Ismaïl Haniyeh, who lives in the emirate, said on Telegram. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), responsible for logistical aspects, for its part announced Monday evening that its president, Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, had met Ismaïl Haniyeh as well as the Qatari authorities in Doha.

Five-day truce, possibly renewable

Around 240 Israelis, civilians and soldiers, men, women and children, have been held hostage since October 7, when Hamas men, followed by other Palestinians, crossed the barriers which demarcate the Gaza Strip to the south of Israel. A staggering number which explains the complexity of finding an agreement, particularly on a logistical level. The massive Israeli attack on the enclave further complicates the location of the hostages, some of whom are not being held prisoner by Hamas, according to the Palestinian organization.

The agreement would last six pages, according to Washington Post. It would provide for the release of 50 to 100 hostages, according to AFP, in exchange for that of 300 Palestinian women and children detained by Israel. The transfer would take place at the rate of 10 Israeli hostages against 30 Palestinians per day. It would take place within the framework of a truce and not a ceasefire, refused by Israel, of five days, possibly renewable. The cessation of fighting would be coupled with that of the overflight of Israeli planes, except over the northern part of the Gaza Strip, where Israeli military operations are concentrated and where they could fly eighteen hours a day.

The agreement would finally include a humanitarian component with the entry into the enclave, including in the north, of 100 to 300 trucks of food and medical aid and fuel. The head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, also wanted an end to aerial surveillance of the enclave by Israeli drones for six hours a day, until Hamas members could locate hostages held by other groups.

Conducive ideological breeding ground

The success of these negotiations between Israel and Hamas was all the more pressing as the health situation in Gaza, already catastrophic, continues to worsen. While IDF military operations have caused the death of more than 13,300 people, including more than 5,600 children, according to Hamas, and Israel now intends to attack the south of the enclave, the lack of water and electricity are about to cause “a tragedy”, warned UNICEF on Tuesday. “If there is not enough fuel, we will see the collapse of sanitation services, said its spokesperson, James Elder. If children’s access to water and sanitation in Gaza remains limited and insufficient, we will see a tragic increase (…) in the number of child deaths.”

All that was still blocking, Tuesday evening, was Israeli policy, which is gradually regaining its rights and which has found, in this complex agreement, a favorable ideological breeding ground. The extreme right, “broken heart”, immediately opposed any agreement, considering that Hamas could only be responded to with force. Negotiating means letting down your guard, turning the other cheek. This is not without pleasing members of the right wing of Likud, and even certain ministers from Benny Gantz’s party, who were still feeling their way publicly before the government meeting. This undoubtedly portends logistical complications for the rest of the agreement. According to Israeli law, any Israeli citizen who is a victim of “Palestinian terrorism” can appeal against the release of Palestinians with “blood on your hands”, within twenty-four hours of the announcement of a prisoner exchange. Israel will therefore have to choose irreproachable prisoners – it has a choice: more than 8,000 Palestinians are currently being held in Israel, more than a third without trial.

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