by Haydar Oruç
On the 46th day of its offensive against Gaza, the Israeli government accepted Hamas’ offer of a ceasefire, even for a short period of time, in order to allow for prisoner swaps. The ceasefire was expected to go into effect at 10 a.m. on Thursday, but only came into effect at 7 a.m. on Friday due to a list disagreement between the parties.
It is estimated that the US, Egypt, and Turkey indirectly contributed to the ceasefire talks mediated by Qatar.
It will be recalled that the families of the Israeli hostages had sent a letter to Turkish President Erdogan asking for his help on the grounds that the Netanyahu government, instead of making efforts to rescue the hostages, was continuing airstrikes that endangered their lives.
In addition to these initiatives, hostage families demonstrated in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and visited parliamentary parties to ask for support.
Especially in the last week, the protests have increased in intensity and the hostage families have increased their pressure on the government and played an important role in changing the government’s stance away from a possible hostage swap.
Under intense pressure from the United States and international organizations, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu finally announced the ceasefire this evening, first in a meeting with his coalition partners and cabinet members, and then with the war cabinet.
According to reports, coalition partners Jewish Power and Religious Zionist parties opposed the ceasefire, while coalition partners Shas and UTJ parties supported the ceasefire.
Netanyahu’s statement on the ceasefire agreement said that in exchange for the release of 50 hostages, mostly women and children, held by Hamas, 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails would be released and a 4-day ceasefire would take effect.
In the statement, it was stated that there are approximately 240 hostages held by Hamas and it is not possible to release all of them at the same time and that the remaining hostages are expected to be released in the following process.
However, Netanyahu also stated that the attacks, which will be suspended for 4 days due to the prisoner exchange, will resume afterward. In this case, it is understood that this ceasefire is purely an attempt to rescue the hostages and that the Israeli army is willing to resume its massacres after the ceasefire.
The details of the agreement indicate that during the ceasefire, Red Cross officials will visit the hostages held by Hamas and provide medical assistance to those in need, which is not only a humanitarian situation but also an opportunity for Israel to use this opportunity to find out where the hostages are being held.
For this reason, Hamas is reportedly demanding that no aircraft fly over Gaza during the Red Cross mission’s stay, and only then will it allow the Red Cross mission to see the hostages.
It is also expected that Gazans who want to take advantage of the ceasefire will try to meet their needs by going to their homes in the north, but it is estimated that Israel will not allow this. It is even assessed that Gazans who want to enter their homes may be exposed to Israeli attacks.
There is also a lack of clarity on the delivery of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Because in previous years there were not such heavy attacks and destruction and UN officials were involved in the process, the hostage exchange was relatively easy. Today, however, we see that the UN is not involved.
Therefore, it is understood that only Qatari and Egyptian officials will communicate between the parties. It remains to be seen whether this will cause any problems in managing the process.
As a result, the ceasefire process is likely to be very fragile, and any malicious action by either side could lead to a breakdown of the ceasefire and jeopardize the lives of the hostages.
Nevertheless, it is thought that the ceasefire decision, which came after 49 days, will soften the process, even if only a little, and that the dialog between the parties can create a basis for a final ceasefire. It is known that Qatar, which mediated in this process, has made great efforts to achieve a final ceasefire and to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
If the US administration provides sincere support and puts pressure on the Netanyahu government, it will be possible to end the Israeli attacks before they go any further. Otherwise, it is foreseen that the Palestinian casualties, which have exceeded 14,000, will increase and reach an irreversible point.