War Day 208: Hostage Negotiations Get Heated, ‘Border Corrections’

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Eight: Hamas expected to reject deal without a permanent ceasefire, opposing demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, reports of negotiations including “border corrections” in the north, and PA kills PIJ terrorist.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

133 held captive in Gaza.
112 hostages freed.
12 hostage bodies rescued.
37 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,494 Israelis murdered.
263 fallen soldiers in the battle in Gaza.
7 fallen soldiers in Northern Israel.
4 fallen soldiers in Judea & Samaria.
11,600+ injured.
13,560 estimated rockets fired at Israel.
102,100 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.

Top Headlines:

  • Hamas expected to reject deal without a permanent ceasefire
  • Opposing demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem
  • Reports of negotiations including “border corrections” in the north
  • PA kills PIJ terrorist

Hostage Updates:

Hostage negotiations are ongoing, although it is beginning to look certain that Hamas will reject the current deal on the table.

Details of the deal have not been made public, but according to various reports, seem to include allowing Gazans to return to all parts of Gaza, an IDF withdrawal from most of Gaza, and the release of some top Hamas terrorists from prison, in exchange for the release of around 33 hostages who are female, elderly, wounded, or ill, during a ceasefire of one day per hostage. The conditions include options to extend the ceasefire for the release of more hostages, and talks to lead to a larger ceasefire.

Hamas is insisting on a complete ceasefire, and reportedly will demand that the conditions include a complete IDF withdrawal from Gaza, and promises of a permanent ceasefire from Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu and other War Cabinet members have made it clear that Israel will not accept a permanent ceasefire without Hamas’s surrender and the release of all hostages.

Hamas is expected to give their final answer tomorrow, after which the Israeli War cabinet will decide on the next move. If the deal falls through, the Rafah operation will begin. If Hamas chooses to accept it, then the wider Israeli government cabinet will have to vote to approve it.

Israelis are split on the issue of the deal. While many believe that the release of the hostages must take priority, others, including military experts, believe that if the deal includes major withdrawals in Gaza it could lead to the loss of more IDF soldiers than hostages released when it’s time to regain the land. In addition, many point to the fact that Yahya Sinwar, who is the mastermind behind the October 7th massacre, was released in an exchange for Gilad Shalit in 2011—and terrorists of his caliber at the time might now be released in this deal.

Two opposing demonstrations took place today: one in Tel Aviv, led by families of hostages, and calling for a deal, and one in Jerusalem, where families of hostages and fallen soldiers set up a “Camp of Courage” demanding that the IDF begin the operation in Rafah.

At the Camp of Courage, Daniel Steinberg, the father of the late Col. Yonatan Steinberg, who fell in battle on October 7th said: “We are not war-hungry, but we know that the role of the army is to ensure security. Lately we all feel a shuffling that leads to depression. There is world pressure on us, from a world who only care about their own interests. This is not how Yonatan trained his soldiers. Don’t call restrictions a victory. We cannot allow this situation to continue. If not now, then never: We must strengthen the decision-makers to fulfill what they promised us at the beginning of the war immediately enter Rafah.”

Gaza Front Updates:

Hamas did not successfully fire any rockets at Israeli civilians today, although impact sites were found in an open area near Holit, and it’s unknown whether they were from today or another day recently.

There was unusually heavy Air Force activity today, in all parts of Gaza, thought the IDF only detailed activities in Central Gaza. The airstrikes targeted Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) infrastructure, including weapon storages and rocket and mortar launching positions.

In Northern Gaza, IDF troops have been carrying out pinpoint operations to destroy remaining Hamas infrastructure and eliminate the few Hamas holdouts in the area—primarily in Beit Hanoun and Lahiya. Only sporadic information is given about these operations, although it can be said that they are focusing on remaining tunnel infrastructure. Hamas claims that a significant amount of their tunnel network is still intact.

In Central Gaza, IDF troops continue to hold the important Netzarim Corridor, which divides the north and south of Gaza, and allows troops quick and easy access to carry out raids in Gaza City, Central Gaza, and Khan Younis. The corridor includes three bases, and is lined with IDF troops and artillery—all of which Hamas and PIJ terrorists keep trying to attack, launch mortars at, or lay bombs near. Today the IDF troops called in several airstrikes which took out active terrorist attackers and their positions.

In Southern Gaza, Khan Younis is beginning to refill, after the IDF withdrew its permanent presence in the city, and residents who had fled to Rafah and other locations began to return.

The big question is now when the Rafah ground operation will begin. We’re already passed multiple dates which the IDF had planned to begin the entry, but delayed due to ongoing negotiations with possible temporary ceasefires. IDF troops are fully ready, trained, and equipped to begin. Gazans in Rafah report many airstrikes on the city over the last few days, which are likely to remove major Hamas positions before the IDF’s entry.

Four Hamas battalions remain intact in Rafah. The city borders Egypt, from where the majority of aid enters Gaza. There are also smuggling tunnels under the border, connecting Gaza to the Sinai (Egypt has destroyed many, but it is unlikely that they’ve found all of them). So long as Hamas still stands in Rafah, they still control much of Gaza, by controlling the economy, the aid, and maintaining the ability to smuggle weapons in.

It’s estimated that over a million displaced Gazans are sheltering in Rafah, and the IDF now has the challenge of evacuating them all so that Hamas can’t use them as human shields. The IDF just completed a massive expansion of the humanitarian zone in the al-Mawasi area along the coast, with hundreds of thousands of large tents and humanitarian aid set up and ready. Along routes to the humanitarian zone and Khan Younis, the IDF is deploying facial recognition technology and other systems to filter out Hamas terrorists.

The Rafah operation will likely begin with an IDF call on all civilians in Rafah to evacuate. Will this hasn’t happened yet, many have begun to move out in anticipation, including humanitarian groups.

U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, visited Israel today, and toured important sites including Kibbutz Nir Oz, where at least 40 residents were killed and 77 were taken hostage by Hamas on October 7th. Minister of Defense, Yoav Galant, told Blinken “We are determined to take any action to return our hostages back to their home, it is correct ethically, it is correct morally, and this is a declared war goal. At the same time, the IDF, subject to the instructions I gave… is prepared to carry out any operational mission in the Rafah area.”

Blinken however, told reporters: “We cannot, will not support a major military operation in Rafah absent an effective plan to make sure that civilians are not harmed and no, we’ve not seen such a plan.”

57 Democrats in the House of Representatives signed a letter calling on US President Joe Biden to take every step possible to dissuade the Israeli government from an all-out attack on Rafah.

Israel will be entering Rafah with little to no international support. Some think this is very enticing to Sinwar, and a major reason why he will not agree to a hostage deal now, in the hopes that Israel get more international hate, indictments at the ICC, and perhaps even that Hezbollah will choose to join the war completely in response.

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

On April 30th:
351 aid trucks were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip
211 pallets containing tens of thousands of packages of food aid were airdropped over northern Gaza
107 food aid trucks were coordinated to northern Gaza (86 private sector and 21 WFP trucks)
4 tankers of cooking gas designated for the operation of essential infrastructure in Gaza, entered Gaza.
32 trucks of flour were coordinated via the Ashdod port program.
26 bakeries are currently operational in Gaza, providing close to 5 million breads, rolls, and pita breads daily.

The IDF reopened the Erez Crossing for the first time since Hamas attacked and severely damaged it on October 7th, and it is now being used to transfer humanitarian aid to Northern Gaza. The Erez Crossing used to be only for foot traffic, and not the transfer of aid or imports, and so the IDF says that before the reopening, engineering forces “constructed inspection and protection infrastructure in the area, as well as paved roads in Israeli territory and in the Strip, enabling the entry of aid to the northern part of the Strip, while strengthening the protection of the [Gaza border] communities in the area.”

The U.S. is rapidly nearing completion of the JLOTS floating pier and some estimate it will be ready for operation by Sunday, and aid will begin to enter Gaza by sea.

Blinken visited the Kerem Shalom crossing today, and commended the IDF’s increase in aid to Gaza.

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah in Lebanon continued to fire heavily on Israeli communities along the far northern border, and family homes were hit by anti-tank missiles. In some border towns it’s estimated that as many as 75% of homes are damaged by Hezbollah fire.

Last night, two truck drivers from a farm were lightly injured when a Hezbollah anti-tank missile hit their truck. Fortunately they were standing outside of the truck at the moment of impact.

The IDF carried out airstrikes against at least 10 Hezbollah positions in Southern Lebanon.

Since Hezbollah began firing at Israel on October 8th, the battle between Hezbollah and the IDF has mostly remained contained to Southern Lebanon and Israel’s far north, though occasionally escalates outside these boundaries before returning to the usual.

The pro-Iranian militias in Iraq claimed in a statement that they had launched an attack drone at a target in the Golan Heights. No hits were made.

While France and the U.S. attempt to negotiate a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel’s Kann News reported that discussions appear to include “border corrections” of a few kilometers worth to appease Hezbollah and allow them to feel they won something. In exchange, Hezbollah is expected to retreat to the lowlands past the Litany River, although it’s unclear how this will be enforced. Many see this as a surrender, and if the War Cabinet gives indication that it will follow this path, there will likely be large protests against it.

Other reports indicate that Israel is preparing for a full war with Hezbollah after the Rafah operation. While Hezbollah enjoys less political support than Hamas, both abroad and locally, they are far better armed, and have heavy modern weaponry, and the advantage of being in a mountainous terrain.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

While reports from Judea and Samaria were relatively quiet today, there was one unusual occurrence in Tulkarm: Palestinian Authority security forces shot and killed a PIJ terrorist.

International Updates:

The state of Colombia announced that it will end diplomatic relations with Israel due to its actions in Gaza. Colombian President Gustavo Petro previously harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and asked to join South Africa’s lawsuit against Israel on charges of “genocide” at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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