Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
A building that was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, April 24, 2024.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet on Thursday authorized the negotiation team to meet with an Egyptian delegation arriving in Israel Friday to renew talks about a hostage release deal. The Israeli team presented the war cabinet with new proposals for flexibility on the Israeli side, Kan 11 News reported.

Israeli sources believe the sudden Egyptian rush to revive the hostage talks – replacing Qatar as the spokesperson for Hamas – has to do with Cairo’s fear of a million Arabs pushing through their border when the IDF starts hitting Rafah.


The PA Ambassador to Cairo Diab Allouh told AFP on Thursday that Between 80,000 and 100,000 Arabs have crossed into Egypt from Gaza since the start of the October 7 war. The Rafah border crossing is the only entry and exit point to Gaza which is not controlled by Israel.

An Israeli official familiar with the details of the negotiations said on Thursday evening that the current Israeli proposal for a hostage deal includes the release of 33 women, soldiers, adults, and the wounded. According to the source, the duration of the ceasefire will depend on the number of hostages that will be released.

According to a Saudi report, Egypt submitted a new proposal to Israel to freeze the operation in Rafah in exchange for restarting negotiations. It was also reported that Egypt forwarded to Israel a proposal on behalf of Hamas, according to which in exchange for the cessation of Hamas attacks against Israel, a full ceasefire would be declared for a year.

Hamas’s latest response to the Egyptian mediators was a demand for a 6-week ceasefire in exchange for releasing 20 hostages.

The London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported on Friday that the terrorists holed up underground in Rafah are anxious about increasing speculations about a possible expanded military operation of the Israeli army there. The newspaper asked Muhammad al-Hindi, Deputy Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad, “What is your response to what is being talked about recently about the ‘decline’ in the number of living Israeli hostages held by the resistance and the possibility of this affecting the resistance’s ability to force Israel to cease fire, considering the value of the hostages’ trump card?”

Al-Hindi answered, “The price in the basic issues is the same, which is stopping the aggression and withdrawing from Gaza, regardless of the number of hostages, and the occupation government is under internal pressure due to the failure to achieve the goals and recover the prisoners.”

Al-Hindi and his partner in war crimes, Yahya Sinwar are reading wrong the Israeli response to the potential discovery that so many of the 133 captives may no longer be alive. Already the number of Israeli anarchists rushing to the streets is dwindling to a few dozen and on occasion a few hundred. The common belief of the vast majority of Israelis is no longer that PM Netanyahu is delaying the hostage talks – at last, they all understand Hamas has been toying with them.

It helped a great deal that the Leaders of the United States, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, on Wednesday sent a clear message pinning the responsibility on Hamas (US, 17 Nations Demand Hamas Free the Hostages).

The Israeli leadership believes the coming operation in Rafah is crucial in putting pressure on Sinwar, who at the moment is entrenching his positions and demanding the end of the war as a condition for the deal.


The duration of the truce Hamas will receive in return for releasing hostages will be shorter than the six weeks formerly negotiated, Ynet reported Friday morning. If in exchange for 40 hostages, Israel was prepared at the beginning of April to grant a six-week truce, in the new proposal the truce will be shorter.

Jerusalem is ready to be flexible on withdrawing from the Netzarim Corridor, an east-west passage through the Gaza Strip built by the IDF, reaching from the Gaza-Israeli border to the Mediterranean Sea.

However, an Israeli source told Ynet that Israel is looking for ways to turn the smaller deal into a bigger move. The source claimed that Israel is “very serious” about its intention to enter Rafah, but if there is a “real proposal and no more Sinwar games,” it would reexamine the operation. However, the source clarified, “We will not compromise on ending the war,” meaning the IDF stays in Gaza until the war is won.

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