What’s Next for Ceasefire Talks After Israel Freed 4 Hostages and Killed 274 Palestinians?

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — A dramatic weekend in Israel Rescue of four hostages From the Gaza Strip, the move, which local health officials say killed 274 Palestinians, comes at a critical time in the eight-month war, as Israel and Hamas weigh a U.S. proposal for a cease-fire and the release of the rest. Prisoners.

Both sides face renewed pressure to make a deal: A complex rescue response of the scale required to bring back the remaining hostages is unlikely, and was a powerful reminder to the Israelis. Hamas now has four fewer bargaining chips.

But months of backdoor negotiations mediated by the United States, Qatar and Egypt could see them dig in, too. Hamas still insists on a ceasefire as part of any deal, while Israel says it remains committed Destroys the combat team.

Here’s a look at the fallout from the move and how it could affect the ceasefire talks:

Happiness, and calls for a deal

The rescue operation, which brought home four of the roughly 250 captives captured in a cross-border attack by Hamas on October 7, was Israel’s most successful since the start of the war. Including Noah ArkamaniHe became a symbol of the struggle to free the hostages.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, the attack killed at least 274 Palestinians, deepening the suffering of people in Gaza who have endured a brutal war and humanitarian disaster. The ministry does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its numbers.

The rescue was met with joy in Israel, which is still reeling from a Hamas attack, with the remains of 80 prisoners and more than 40 still agonizing over the fate of the prisoners in Gaza. Israeli hardliners may seize on that as evidence that only military pressure will bring back the rest.

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But only three hostages have been freed by the military since the start of the war. A further three were killed by Israeli forces by mistake after fleeing on their own, while others were killed in Israeli airstrikes, Hamas says.

“If anyone believes that yesterday’s action relieves the government of the need to make a deal, they are living a fantasy,” Israeli columnist Nahum Barnia wrote in the best-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper. “There are people out there who need to be saved, and the sooner the better.”

A spokesman for the Israeli military, Rear Adm. Even Daniel Hagari acknowledged the limitations of military force. “It’s a deal to bring most of the hostages home alive,” he told reporters.

Relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group call for their release during a rally in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Swigenberg)

At one point more than 100 hostages were released A week-long ceasefire last year, reaching a similar deal in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel is still widely seen as the only way to get the remaining hostages back. Hours after Saturday’s rescue, tens of thousands of Israelis took part in demonstrations in Tel Aviv calling for such a deal.

US President Joe Biden last week announced a phased plan for a ceasefire and the release of hostages. A highly concentrated diplomatic thrust of the administration to a fight.

Biden described it as an Israeli proposal, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly questioned some aspects of it, particularly its call for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and a lasting ceasefire. His ultra-nationalist coalition partners have threatened to topple his government if he ends the war without destroying Hamas.

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That appears to have deepened doubts on the part of Hamas, which has sought international assurances that the war will end. It is unclear whether such guarantees have been provided, and Hamas has yet to officially respond to the proposal.

Netanyahu is looking for leverage

The rescue operation was a rare victory for Netanyahu, whom many Israelis blamed Security failures that led to the October 7 attack And despite months of fierce fighting, the hostages could not be returned.

He was elated by the success of the operation and rushed to the hospital where the freed hostages were being held on Saturday to meet each of them as cameras rolled. The rescue operation will help restore his image.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at Sheba Del Hashomer Hospital, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Ramat Gan, Israel.  Israel carried out its largest hostage rescue operation since the war with Hamas began on Saturday, taking four people to safety.  Fierce fighting continued outside central Gaza.  (Jack Kuss/Pool Photo via AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at Sheba Del Hashomer Hospital, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Ramat Gan, Israel. (Jacques Guess/Pool Photo via AP)

But as the euphoria fades, he faces even more intense pressure from a US administration that wants to end the war and an ultranationalist base that wants to defeat Hamas at any cost. His main political opponent, retired General Benny Kantz, Withdrawal from the Emergency Wartime Alliance On Sunday, Netanyahu is even more beholden to his staunchest followers.

Netanyahu has already faced criticism from some families of the dead hostages, who accuse him of receiving no such visits and taking credit only for the war’s victories. Israel may face international pressure over the attack’s high Palestinian death toll.

“The success in freeing the four hostages was a stunning tactical victory that did not change our dire strategic situation,” columnist Ben Kasbit wrote in Israel’s Maariv daily.

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All of this creates a difficult balancing act, even for someone like Netanyahu, whom friends and foes consider a master politician.

The move would give the Israeli public an incentive to allow them to justify a deal with Hamas. Or he may decide that time is on his side and he can drive a hard bargain with the militants when they are facing major setbacks.

Hamas loses bargaining chips

Hamas has lost four valuable bargaining chips it hoped to trade for high-profile Palestinian prisoners. Arkhamani, who was widely recognized in a video showing her begging for her life as militants dragged her away on a motorcycle, was a significant loss for Hamas.

The attack may have also affected Hamas’ morale. In the October 7 attackHamas managed to embarrass a country with a highly superior military that has since regrouped despite devastating military operations across Gaza.

But it is true that Israel was able to mount A complex rescue operation In broad daylight in the heart of a crowded urban area, Israel’s security forces have temporarily regained some of the mystery lost on October 7.

The move also refocused global attention The hostage crisis At a time when the US is mounting global pressure on Hamas to accept a cease-fire deal.

But Hamas has a long history of resisting pressure from Israel and others. Often at great cost to the Palestinians. The combatants may decide that it is best to use the remaining hostages to end the war as much as possible – or they may look for better places to hide them.

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