Cease-fire deal ends Monday: What’s next?

Cease-fire deal ends Monday: What's next?

(NewsNation) — Since the smooth exchange of hostages and prisoners between Israel and Hamas during the ongoing cease-fire, concerns have emerged as to what comes after. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would welcome extending a temporary truce if it meant that on every additional day, 10 captives would be freed. Hamas also expressed interest in extending the truce.  

“The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas seeks to extend the truce after the 4-day period ends, through serious efforts to increase the number of those released from imprisonment as stipulated in the humanitarian ceasefire agreement,” the group said in a press release. 

“The pause in fighting won’t go on forever,” Jamil Jaffer, founder and executive director of the National Security Institute said, acknowledging the delicate balance between humanitarian concerns and the need for strategic decisions. He expressed hope that the release of more hostages could create space for a negotiated solution to the conflict. 

“They are going to try to resupply, they’re going to try to fortify their positions,” Jaffer pointed out the challenges facing the Israeli cabinet in determining the extent of concessions before risking territorial gains by Hamas. 

The fourth exchange is expected on Monday — the last day of the cease-fire, during which a total of 50 Israeli citizens and 150 Palestinian prisoners are to be freed. 

It is anticipated 11 more hostages will be released if the process continues without complications. The list of names, however, remains uncertain, as it is unclear whether it has been provided to Israel or the families. 

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said 10 American hostages remain in Gaza as of Sunday. 

58 of the hostages held by Hamas since Oct. 7 have been successfully released, marking the third day of the negotiated ceasefire. The transitions and handoffs, crucial aspects of the release, have been reported as proceeding smoothly. 

Retired Brigadier General John Teichert emphasized the importance of Israel’s confirmation to extend the fighting pause, asserting that Hamas’ willingness must be put to the test. 

Regarding the truce deal and the release of hostages, the general expressed concern over the grim tactics employed by Hamas, citing the use of civilians as shields and the brutal treatment of hostages.  

He acknowledged the challenging conditions some hostages may be facing but underscored Israel’s commitment to negotiating in good faith to secure their release. 

If an extended ceasefire is not reached, Teichert outlined that Israeli forces would persist in neutralizing and isolating Hamas, particularly in the northern part of Gaza. He highlighted the ongoing efforts to force Hamas into capitulation and release more hostages through strategic military actions. 

The hostages, assisted by the International Red Cross, were moved from Gaza to Egypt and then into Israel.  

Hamas cited appreciation for Moscow’s handling of the conflict as the reason behind releasing a Russian national, who became the first male hostage released. Prior to this, only women and children had been freed.  

A critically ill elderly woman, released on Sunday, was immediately transported to a hospital. Staff at the hospital reported her critical condition, attributing it to a lack of proper care during captivity. 

The released hostages are now spread across hospitals in Israel, undergoing psychological care. Reunited with their families, they are expected to provide valuable information, with Israeli authorities keen on gathering insights into their conditions during captivity. 

While families are not extensively speaking out, some details have emerged. One family, whose three relatives were released on Friday, described irregular feeding schedules, significant weight loss, makeshift sleeping arrangements and long waits for the bathroom. 

Jaffer expressed skepticism about the potential for these efforts to lead to a permanent ceasefire or an end to the conflict. He highlighted Israel’s desire for the dismantling of Hamas and its leadership, a condition seemingly unmet and casting doubt on the possibility of a long-term resolution through hostage trades. 

Shifting focus to the attacks on US troops in Syria and Iraq, the general highlighted the severity of the situation, with 70 Americans injured and one killed in approximately 66 attacks. Teichert said there is a need for a robust response, citing his experience in Iraq and asserting that strength, capability, will, and resolve is crucial in deterring further attacks.  

Teichert warned against perceived weakness, which he believes emboldens Iranian-aligned groups to carry out proxy attacks. 

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