Photo Credit: IDF
IDF soldiers securing a demolished neighborhood of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, January 31, 2024.

Arab sources told News14’s Baruch Yadid on Thursday that Hamas demands guarantees to ensure that Israel will refrain from killing senior members of the terrorist organization abroad.

Osama Hamdan, the new senior Hamas official in Lebanon (he took over for Saleh al-Arouri who was assassinated in early January), on Wednesday, denied reports that on Saturday there will be an announcement of a ceasefire in Gaza. Hamdan claimed: “We have substantial comments regarding the proposal submitted to us.”


He was referring to the latest version of a hostage deal that Israel reportedly delivered to Qatar so it would deliver it to Yahya Sinwar, presumably in his underground lodging somewhere in southern Gaza.

Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Students of the Bnei David Institutions in Eli:

“I hear talk about all kinds of deals. I would like to make it clear: We will not conclude this war without achieving all of its goals. This means eliminating Hamas, returning all of our hostages, and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to Israel.

“We will not withdraw the IDF from the Gaza Strip and we will not release thousands of terrorists. None of this will happen. What will happen? Total victory. This victory, as it is written, will be achieved ‘Not by might and not by power but by My spirit says the Lord of Hosts.’ (Zechariah 4:6). By spirit; it will be achieved by spirit.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, US negotiators, led by Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, say it would be difficult for Israel to resume the war at its current intensity after a long pause.

Be that as it may, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday: “We are looking at an extended pause as the goal. How long, that’s all part of the discussions, but longer than what we saw in November, which was about a week.”
Kirby admitted that “nobody is doing a touchdown dance” yet, however, the administration is optimistic about achieving a consensus among all parties to cease hostilities, facilitating the release of hostages from Gaza, and increasing the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The Wall Street Journal’s podcast on Wednesday suggested Israel and Hamas are considering a six-week three-stage ceasefire that would begin with the release of hostages in Gaza. The WSJ podcast cited officials with knowledge of the draft agreement worked out by international intelligence chiefs in Paris this week and noted that Washington says a deal is closer than at any time since the collapse of a ceasefire in December.

But officials warn that an imminent deal could be unlikely as it would mean overcoming internal divisions and deep-rooted differences between the warring sides. They suggest that clearing those obstacles could result in a deal within a week to 10 days.

Haaretz had a much simpler view of events. It cited an official involved in the negotiations for the hostage deal who expressed concern that Netanyahu’s “extremist” statements in recent days are intended to encourage Hamas to harden its positions and blow up the deal.

According to the source, such a move would allow Israel to continue fighting while placing responsibility for the failure of the talks on the terrorist organization.

Mind you, this attack on Netanyahu the extremist who’s blowing up the talks is taking place while the IDF is announcing it has begun flooding the terrorist’s tunnels and expanding the fighting to the underground zone, pushing Hamas further and further back. Have you seen the recent images of Hamas fighters surrendering with their hair wet? It’s not because they just came out of the shower.

At the same time, political sources in Hamas who spoke with Haaretz Wednesday evening said that the head of the organization’s political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, is inclined to approve the current outline on the condition that he receive guarantees from the mediators for a comprehensive ceasefire in the final phase of the deal.

In other words, the proposed deal is hostages for ending the war, which Haaretz is all too happy to embrace (tell Mr. Haniyeh Amos Shoken says Hi). Hamas stays in charge, and all the brave soldiers who thought they were sacrificing their lives to rid the world of the Nazi menace once again, well, they was wrong.

Meanwhile, thank God, IDF soldiers are not slowing down. On Wednesday, a New York Times analysis of Israeli military footage, social media videos, and satellite imagery showed at least 33 controlled demolitions have destroyed hundreds of buildings – including mosques, schools, and entire sections of residential neighborhoods – since November.

In response to NYT’s questions about the demolitions, a spokesperson for the Israeli military said that soldiers are “locating and destroying terror infrastructures embedded, among other things, inside buildings” in civilian areas – adding that sometimes entire neighborhoods act as “combat complexes” for Hamas fighters.

As do schools and mosques and clinics and hospitals and that new Shawarma joint on Salah a-Din Road.

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