November 21, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Agrees to Pause in Fighting to Recover At Least 50 Hostages

November 21, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Agrees to Pause in Fighting to Recover At Least 50 Hostages

Latest Developments

Israel agreed on November 21 to a four-day pause in fighting in exchange for the release of at least 50 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. According to the terms of the Qatari- and Egyptian-mediated deal, Hamas will release the women and children in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. For every additional 10 hostages released, the pause will be extended by another day. Israel also agreed to allow fuel, humanitarian aid, and medical supplies to enter Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated the war will continue even after the deal “in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza.”

Expert Analysis

“Israel has long been prepared to make painful concessions to save the lives of its citizens. It is even prepared to make painful concessions to return the remains of its fallen in order to properly bury them. Hamas knew this heading into October 7. This was their leverage. But when this deal is sealed, with more than 100 Israelis still in Hamas’s hands, one can expect Israel to fight with even greater intensity. The public is determined to see the terrorist group completely dismantled.” — Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“A temporary pause in fighting makes sense if that enables Israel to rescue innocent civilians held hostage, returning them to their loved ones. It is important to distinguish between a permanent ceasefire and a temporary one. There can be good reasons for a temporary pause in fighting. In fact, we have seen many such pauses in recent weeks. But ending Israel’s military activities in Gaza before Hamas is deprived of the means of murder it exhibited on Oct. 7 would be a disaster, increasing the chances we will see a repeat of that horrible day.” Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

Hamas’s Demands

Hamas demanded in October that Israel release thousands of jailed Palestinians in exchange for the civilians Hamas abducted on October 7. Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad reiterated the group’s call for a prisoner exchange on November 2. He said that Hamas will not release hostages until Israel frees “all the prisoners from the Israeli detention centers.” The jailed Palestinians include convicted terrorists. On November 6, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there would be no cease-fire in Gaza “without the release of our hostages.” He noted that a cease-fire would “hamper our effort to get our hostages out” because Hamas only responds to “military pressure.”

Qatari Mediation Benefits Hamas

Qatar is a state sponsor of Hamas. The terrorist group reportedly receives between $360 million and $480 million from Doha per year. Hamas also maintains an office in Doha and several senior Hamas leaders live as billionaires in Qatar. Additionally, Qatar’s state-sponsored media channel, Al-Jazeera, provides a platform for Hamas to amplify its messaging. Doha’s role in hostage negotiations raises questions as to whether the United States will push Qatar to close Hamas offices, expel Hamas officials, and cut off financial support to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas Demands Release of Terrorists in Exchange for Israeli Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

Netanyahu Says No Gaza Cease-fire Without Hostage Release,” FDD Flash Brief

Gaza Hospital Basement Used to Confine Hostages, Israel Finds,” FDD Flash Brief

U.S. Wrong to Involve Qatar and Turkey in Israeli Hostage Negotiations,” FDD Flash Brief


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