EPAPhotos in Tel Aviv of hostages taken by Hamas
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 20:28
After an earlier release of four people, the deal between Hamas and Israel now appears to be releasing dozens of hostages after more than a month and leading to a temporary ceasefire. Experts speak of an agreement that both parties can well defend to their supporters.
“It was expected that Hamas would release more hostages,” said terrorism and security expert Glenn Schoen. According to him, Hamas is playing on public opinion with the release by demonstrating that the hostages were treated well. “But I expected them to release more people sooner.”
Schoen: “Hamas must buy time so that fighters can leave. That is more difficult when you have large groups of hostages.” In addition, due to the actions of the Israeli army in Gaza, there are fewer and fewer places where Hamas can hide the hostages, says Schoen. “We are already hearing reports of one or two dead hostages. There is a good chance that number will increase.”
Deal in 2011
Historian and Middle East expert Peter Malcontent points out the great pressure on Israel to reach a deal. According to him, this is many times greater than in 2011, when Israel exchanged 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for one hostage Israeli soldier. The discussions about this lasted five years.
Malcontent: “The fact that Israel does a lot to get people back is not new, but now you are dealing with several families of hostages. They have become a force in themselves, which the Israeli government cannot ignore.”
In short: what the deal between Israel and Hamas entails:
A four-day ceasefireRelease of fifty women and children held hostage by HamasRelease of 150 Palestinian women, children and 18-year-olds captured by Israel
Other details of the deal can be read here.
According to Schoen and Malcontent, Hamas has made use of these sentiments in the negotiations. Malcontent: “The pressure was increasing. At first the Israeli government’s story was: we must eliminate Hamas at all costs, even if it costs the lives of the hostages. But slowly the call for the hostages to be taken back became greater, especially by vocal voices. family members.”
Schoen: “Hamas keeps an eye on public opinion. They try to find out what people think about their actions in Israel.” He therefore expects that the militant movement will hold hostages whose family members are mature longer in order to get more out of the negotiations.
Water with the wine
Because Israel and Hamas never speak directly, negotiations are conducted indirectly. Qatar and the United States, among others, are involved in these talks.
In the past, negotiation expert Hans Slaman conducted negotiations with privateers off the Somali coast. He emphasizes that these require a lot of effort for all parties and that compromises must be made on both sides. “I call that: stepping over your own shadow.”
At the same time, every conversation is meticulously recorded by the negotiating parties, says Slaman. “If you analyze those conversations carefully, you can discover a certain line. Then you get the feeling: if one person takes a certain step, the other will react in the same way and then a chess game will arise. You try to get into the other person’s skin. .”
Israel will not release serious terrorists. Most of the Palestinians released under the deal are stone throwers.
Peter Malcontent, Middle East expert
The ceasefire that has been agreed in particular helps Hamas, thinks Middle East expert Malcontent. Not only does it give the people in Gaza some breathing space, but it also means, according to him, that journalists can enter the area and document the devastation caused by the bombings.
Malcontent: “Time does not work in Israel’s favor, but in Hamas’ favor. Israel will have to defend itself every day during the ceasefire as to why it is necessary to fight again. That will become more difficult.”
Part of the deal also includes Israel’s phased release of 150 Palestinian women and minors held in Israeli prisons. This is offset by the release of 50 Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip.
Malcontent: “Israel really won’t let serious terrorists go. Most of them are stone throwers.” And the Israeli government can still defend that to its own population, Schoen also says. “Because of course you have to be prepared to make concessions, but not to such a point that it becomes a danger to society and what happened on October 7 could happen again.”