Early this morning, Hamas fired the first shot that signalled the end of its ceasefire deal with Israel, roughly an hour before the truce was due to expire. Before the ceasefire broke there had been a night of intense negotiations over the next stage of the hostage releases. Hamas, as it has done since negotiations started, tried every trick in the book to buy time and maximise its gains. Last night, it did not agree to Israel’s demand to release the remaining surviving women.
Hamas has violated the ceasefire deal on several occasions. It breached some of it terms about separating mothers and children. It also broke the ceasefire in Gaza by attacking IDF soldiers, and again when it claimed responsibility for a terror attack in Jerusalem yesterday. In that attack, three Israeli civilians were killed. Despite this, Israel has carried on adhering to the ceasefire agreement, not wanting to risk the hostages. Today, Israel’s patience finally ended, and it resumed fighting following Hamas’s missile attack.
Over the last seven days, Hamas has released 105 hostages, with Israeli women and children and foreign nationals gaining their freedom. In return, Israel has released Palestinian prisoners – women and men younger than 19 – at a rate of three Palestinians for every one Israeli released. If another ceasefire is agreed, it will include adult male hostages – some are fathers to children who were held in captivity by Hamas and released – and bodies of Israelis held by Hamas. It’s possible that in exchange, Hamas will change its demands.
If talks restart, Hamas is likely to demand the release of adult male hostages that are imprisoned for serious terrorism offences, and will try to increase the number of prisoners they want in return for each released Israeli.