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The war: To negotiate or not with Hamas? The issue that divides Israel over the 240 hostages in Gaza

In its massive attack on Israel more than three weeks ago, Hamas took valuable loot: at least 240 souls that it holds captive and hopes to exchange for thousands of Palestinian prisoners. To negotiate or not to negotiate with the terrorist group? That is the issue that divides the Israeli government and society.

Aloni Emilia, five years old, Adar Yafa, 85, Bibas Kfir, nine months old, Regev Itay, 18 years old… the list of hostages includes soldiers and especially civilians

All of them were captured and taken to the Gaza Strip by more than 2,000 Hamas militiamen who infiltrated Israel on October 7 during an attack that included rocket fire, murders and attacks against the inhabitants of the villages surrounding the Palestinian enclave. .

At least 1,400 people died and more than 5,400 were injured on Israeli soil following the attack, which marked the beginning of a new war between the Jewish State and the Islamist movement.

Living knowing that your loved ones are in the hands of Hamas “is an ordeal that I would not wish on anyone, not even my worst enemy,” Itzik Horn, a 71-year-old Jew of Argentine origin whose children – Eitan, 37, tells EFE and Yair, 45, were captured in the village of Nir Oz.

“For me there is no day, there is no night, I haven’t slept in weeks”Add.

Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Al Qasam Brigades – the armed wing of Hamas – demanded last Saturday the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in exchange for the freedom of the hostages, a proposal that the Israeli authorities have rejected, at least officially. .

Video

The Israeli military has released more images of its operations in Gaza.

The head of the Israeli National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi, has said that “Israel will not negotiate with an enemy it promised to wipe off the face of the earth,” while Defense Minister Yoav Gallant assured relatives on Sunday of the hostages that Hamas’s offer is only part of its “psychological warfare” and that it is not feasible.

But the head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, David Barnea, traveled to Qatar over the weekend. on a secret mission to discuss the possibility of an agreement to free the hostages, according to Israeli media.

On previous climbs, Qatar has negotiated between Israel and Palestinian militias, and last week, Hanegbi noted that Qatari intervention in humanitarian aspects of the current war has been “crucial.” Asked by EFE about these negotiations, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to comment.

“If you ask me, I deal with the devil, I want my children back,” Horn says, his voice breaking.

“Let them release 10,000 or 20,000 Palestinians“What does it matter to me,” emphasizes this retired school director.

Natali Matmon, whose mother – 77-year-old Ofelia Roitman – was kidnapped by Hamas in the Nir Oz kibbutz, agrees.

“I want them to give them everything, to give her and everyone back today, now,” this 48-year-old teacher tells EFE.

40% of Jews in Israel are in favor of the mass release of prisoners Palestinians in exchange for the hostages, and 45% are against, according to a survey by the Israel Democracy Institute.

Strategic value

Matmon would have liked the Israeli Army not to begin its ground incursion into Gaza, as it did last Friday, until all the hostages were freed.

“But no one asked me”says this Jewish woman of Argentine origin, in the garden of a hotel in Herzliya, where she was displaced from Moshav after the Hamas assault.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to consider any ceasefire, while the Army bombs the Strip incessantly and its ground troops have practically reached Gaza City, leaving more than 8,500 dead and 21,000 injured, of which seventy percent They are children, women and the elderly.

Meanwhile, shocking stories from the hostages come and go.

On Monday Israel announced the rescue of its soldier Ori Megidish and the murder of the young German-Israeli Shani Louk, whose body, unconscious and half-naked, was displayed in a van in Gaza alongside armed militiamen.

In addition, Hamas yesterday released a video showing three kidnapped Israeli women in which one of them implores Netanyahu: “Release us now, let us return to our families.”

Since October 7, Hamas has freed four hostages – two Americans and two elderly Israeli women – while Israel has arrested more than 1,200 Palestinians in its territory as well as in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on suspicion of having links to the militias.

In addition, some 5,300 Palestinians have been imprisoned in Israel since before the war, according to Palestinian sources.

Horn, who was also displaced from his city of Sderot, assures that the hostages “will cease to have strategic value if Israel does not agree to negotiate under any point of view”.

For his part, Matmon believes that not all the hostages will be released: “If Hamas hands over all the hostages, then Israel kills them all (the militiamen) and that’s it. They are not going to do that.”

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