A hostage deal between Israel and Hamas ym”s is expected to be announced tonight. Here’s what we do and don’t know, based on reports in the media and from Israeli officials.
By Mrs. Bruria Efune
Here’s what we know about the hostage deal which may be approved tonight:
1) The deal will take place over a period of four days.
2) Each evening, around 12 Israeli hostages will be released, to a total of 50.
3) All released hostages must be alive.
4) The released hostages will be Israeli children, mothers, and grandmothers.
5) If all goes smoothly, the deal may be extended by up to three more days, with an additional release of 10 hostages each day, which may include men and women who are not mothers.
6) Hostages who do not have Israeli citizenship are not included in this deal, and are being negotiated separately, by their respective countries of origin. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Thai hostages will be released too, separate of the Israeli agreement.
7) As part of the agreement, the Red Cross will be given access to the hostages who are not released, and will provide them with medical treatment if necessary.
8) In exchange for each hostage released, Israel will release 3 security prisoners. The released prisoners will not include any accused of murder. Unconfirmed reports indicate that they will only be women and juveniles, and not belonging to Hamas—this we don’t know for sure.
9) The released prisoners will return to their homes, in either Judea, Samaria, or Gaza.
10) Each day of the deal, there will be a ceasefire for 6 hours, during which the Israeli Air Force will not be active. (The Shin Bet and other intelligence units will still be active in other ways, and will not be blind.)
11) The IDF will maintain hold of all positions captured until now, and there will be no movement in Gaza back towards the north.
12) During the agreement, fuel will again be transferred into southern Gaza.
13) As soon as the deal is over, the IDF will return to abolishing Hamas.
14) The IDF, Shin Bet, and Mossad all approve the conditions of the agreement.
15) Hamas originally demanded much more than this, but dropped many demands as they became more desperate.
For the deal to begin:
A majority of the government cabinet must vote in approval. It appears that there will be enough votes.
The Religious Zionist and Otzma Yehudi parties plan to vote against the deal.
Shas (the Sephardi Haredi party) will vote for it, on council of the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, who is of the opinion that HaRav Ovadia Yosef would approve.
The deal will only begin 24 hours after the cabinet’s approval, giving time for Israelis to object to the release of any specific prisoners.
The big if: Hamas does not actually know the location of all the hostages, who are spread out across all of Gaza. Some are being held by smaller terrors groups, such as Islamic Jihad. Israeli intelligence however estimates that Hamas will be able to locate the whereabouts of at least 80 hostages.
This deal obviously brings many mixed feelings to everyone in Israel (physically, or at heart). We are happy and relieved that children and mothers will be reunited with their families in time for Chanukah. We are concerned of the danger the deal may bring to our soldiers, and the possibility of released prisoners committing acts of terror in the future, or the general consequences of negotiating with terrorists.
It is okay to feel two strong contradicting emotions at once.
At the end of the day, the huge weight lays on the shoulders of those who have to make this decision, and Hashem, who has the responsibility of watching over His children, and is the only One who truly can.