Israel ‘open’ to 24-hour truce with Hamas in return for hostages, says former spy chief

Israel could agree to a humanitarian pause of its bombardment of Gaza in exchange for the release of civilian hostages held by Hamas, an Israeli MP and a former military commander has told i.

The US and UK governments are calling for a pause in Israel’s campaign, short of a full ceasefire, as civilian casualties mount in the besieged enclave amid growing domestic pressure to end the bloodshed.

Former Israel Defence Force (IDF) general and intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said a deal for a temporary truce is realistic under certain conditions.

“Israel is open” to a pause, said General Yadlin. “We need to be clear on the difference between a ceasefire and a humanitarian pause. A ceasefire is not on the agenda – it will be achieved when Hamas is destroyed. A humanitarian pause is a possibility.”

Hamas is believed to be holding dozens of children and elderly and disabled people among more than 200 hostages captured on 7 October. Their release is a “precondition” for any pause, the former general said.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 4: Demonstrators march on K Street on their way to the White House during the National March on Washington for Palestine while calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas November 4, 2023 in Washington, DC. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that there will be no ceasefire or pause in hostilities in the Gaza Strip until all of the hostages held by Hamas are released. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
Marches calling for a ceasefire were held in cities across the world over the weekend (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty)

The militant group that controls Gaza has previously suggested that it could release some hostages after a ceasefire is agreed, with negotiations believed to be ongoing.

While Israeli security sources have previously indicated they might be open to a pause of a few hours in fighting, General Yadlin said he believed such a pause could last for 24 to 72 hours.

“The level of humanitarian pause will be proportional to the release,” said General Yadlin, adding that a day or more would allow time to achieve the twin goals of moving Palestinian civilians south from the north of Gaza – where fighting is fiercest – and to supply aid to the south.

Israeli MP Moshe Roth told i that a pause was a “dangerous idea” that would “benefit Hamas”. But he added that concern for the hostages could result in a limited agreement.

“If we see all those little babies, all the children coming home… who have been lost for the last three weeks, that would definitely be something to consider a pause [for].”

He warned that “if they wanted a pause… they would first of all have to release hostages”, adding: “[A pause] is not something which should be taken lightly, any pause, we have to understand the significance of what it means.”

The MP said that he had not yet seen “any proposal that I could support.”

US secretary of state Antony Blinken became the latest foreign leader to call for humanitarian pauses over the weekend. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he would not accept a pause until the release of all the hostages held by Hamas.

Israeli military analyst Yoni Ben-Menachem said that the government could accept a deal that covered only the civilian hostages, believed to be the majority of captives.

“But [Hamas] will never release all the hostages. They understand that Israel is going to kill them so they need human shields,” he said.

A pause would not entail the compromise of the wider goal to destroy Hamas, the analyst said, noting that the IDF has recently underlined its intention to kill senior leaders of the militant group – a central goal of the Gaza operation.

The UN and aid groups operating in Gaza are calling for a full ceasefire as the death toll rises and conditions deteriorate. Marches were staged in cities across the world calling for a ceasefire over the weekend.

Almost 10,000 people have now been killed since 7 October, according to the Gaza health ministry, including more than 4,000 children.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button