Update – Feb 7th: Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told Reuters late yesterday that Hamas intends the release of the largest number possible of terrorists imprisoned by Israel utilizing an agreement devised by Egypt and Qatar.
Hamas is also demanding a complete end to the war and a permanent ceasefire, complete non-starters for Israel, which is only looking for temporary pauses and a phased release of hostages.
He adds that it took Hamas over a week to issue a response because “many of [the agreement’s] issues were unclear and ambiguous.”
PM Netanyahu said in a speech earlier today that he rejects Hamas’ ceasefire proposal, saying that surrendering to the terror organization’s demands would be a disaster.
“We are on the way to complete victory. The victory is within reach in a matter of months”, Netanyahu said.
Update – Feb 6th:
Hamas has reportedly responded to the hostage proposal with an alternative plan consisting of three phases, each lasting 45 days:
Phase 1: Release Israeli women hostages, males under 19, the elderly, and the sick in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails.
Phase 2: Release the remaining male hostages.
Phase 3: Return the remains of murdered hostages.
Hamas seeks the release of 1,500 prisoners, a third of whom it wants to select from a list of Palestinians serving life sentences. Additionally, they demand an increase in the flow of food and aid with the entry of 500 trucks a day.
– – –
Update – Feb 2nd:
PM Netanyahu at today’s Cabinet meeting:
“There are three conditions [for a hostage deal] that we cannot agree to, we cannot allow the war to end. We embarked on this move to collapse Hamas. We cannot allow the release of thousands of terrorists – this is a fact whose meaning is clear to all of us, and we cannot allow the IDF to leave the Gaza Strip. Our strength is in our unity. Hopefully everyone here will stay, and if not it will hurt us all.”
Meanwhile, Blinken will travel to Saudi, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank amid efforts to reach a hostage deal:
Latest deal details: The current deal proposed to Hamas focuses on the 35 most sensitive hostages, women, injured, the elderly, and the sick. In that period, Israel will increase humanitarian aid and stop collecting intelligence.
One day of ceasefire for each. Israel is trying to set that up as independent from the rest of the ceasefire and hostages.
Then, 7 days will be allocated to negotiate the next stage of hostage releases and ceasefires. The following stage will be for soldiers and the final one for dead bodies.
The number of prisoners per hostage has not been worked out yet. But it will be much higher for soldiers than for the first 35 hostages.
Update – Jan 29th PM: According to a recent report, Hamas has rejected the proposal put forth by mediators, insisting that Israel cease fire and withdraw from Gaza first.
According to a statement released this evening, both Hamas and the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) are adamant that Israel must halt its offensive in Gaza and withdraw from the Strip before any discussions on a prisoner exchange can take place. The PFLP, as the second major faction of the PLO after Fatah, has joined the conflict against Israel following Hamas’ attack on October 7th.
– – –
Update – Jan 29th AM: The government’s war cabinet is slated to convene to address recent speculations surrounding an alleged offer. Reports suggest a proposed 45-day truce in exchange for the release of 35 hostages in the initial phase. The terms also include releasing 100-250 terrorists per hostage, including those classified as ‘heavy’ murderers, totaling an unprecedented 4,000-5,000 terrorists released.
Contrary to these reports, the Prime Minister’s office has issued a statement asserting the inaccuracy of the claims. The government categorically denies the existence of any deal, emphasizing that the mentioned conditions are unacceptable to Israel. The directive from the Prime Minister’s office is to persist until achieving complete victory.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Elyakim IDF base where he met with cadets in the company commanders training course, both conscripts and reservists.
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
“My main expectation is nothing less than total victory. There is no substitute for victory. I hear in the studios, analysts and all kinds of commentators: ‘It is impossible’ and ‘It is not necessary.’ It is possible and it is necessary, neither do we have a choice. Total victory.
These monsters will be thoroughly defeated to the end. There is no substitute for victory. This is my main expectation and I hope and am certain that it is also yours.”
– – –
Jan 28th: According to reports from the New York Times, negotiators led by the United States are “making progress” towards a potential agreement wherein Israel would temporarily halt its military operations in Gaza for approximately two months in return for the release of over 100 hostages.
The proposed agreement outlines the following phases:
Phase 1 – a 30-day ceasefire during which women, elderly individuals, and wounded hostages would be released.
Phase 2 – an additional 30 days of the suspension of military activities, contingent upon the release of Israeli soldiers and male civilian hostages.
The proposed deal also includes provisions for the release of Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons and an increase in humanitarian aid flowing into Gaza.