On Tuesday night, 21 November, the Israeli Defense Forces, the Hamas terrorist organization, and the nation of Qatar, which served as a mediator between the two, all confirmed the mutual agreement to a four-day humanitarian ceasefire period between Israel and Hamas. As part of the conditions, Hamas will release 50 Israeli civilian hostages, mostly women and children; while Israel will set free 150 Palestinian prisoners.
Fighting has been ceaseless between the Jewish state and the terror group of Palestine since Hamas decided to launch an unprecedented wave of attacks on 7 October—it has been more than seven weeks since then by now. Unfortunately, civilian casualties have not been rare in the conflict, not only because of Hamas’ tendencies to target civilians, but also because of their practice of hiding among them for cover in defence.
Apart from the chief mediator Qatar, whose efforts were led by Minister of State Mohammed Al-Khulaifi, the governments of the United States and Egypt have also been involved in the negotiations. Both the American and the Egyptian governments welcomed the agreement. US President Joe Biden wrote ‘I welcome the deal to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas during its brutal assault against Israel on October 7th’ on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter). Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdelfattah El-Sisi reiterated his country’s goal of finding a ‘sustainable’ long-term solution to the conflict.
The Israeli government was reportedly the last to agree to the terms. Their reluctance is also evidenced by the fact that, while speaking to reporters at noon local time earlier today, a spokesperson for the Israeli Defence Forces failed to specify exactly what time the armed forces would stop fighting, and also revealed that IDF uses the term ‘operational pause’ instead of ceasefire.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated in the past that his country ‘will not relent’ until all hostages held by Hamas are released. However, the terms of the ceasefire only mandate the Palestinians to release 50 out of the around 240 Israelis still held captive by them. In fact, the reason Israel was among the only 14 nations (along with the United States and Hungary) to vote against an immediate ceasefire in the UN General Assembly in October is that the text of the proposition did not stipulate the release of all Israeli hostages clearly enough.
On the subject,
PM Netanyahu released a video message in his native language of Hebrew, in which he stressed unequivocally that Israel is still at war,
and its armed forces will continue to fight after the ceasefire until his country achieves ‘all of our goals,’ which evidently includes the release of all hostages, as well as ‘to wipe out Hamas,’ as he put it.
However, in the initial statement about the ceasefire agreement, Israel has also stated that they are open to an extension of the truce period in exchange for the release of more hostages.