Photo Credit: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Tel Aviv, November 22, 2023.

Just before midnight on Wednesday, following a lengthy press conference with Netanyahu, Gallant, and Gantz, who were explaining the hard choices they were forced to make between fighting Hamas to the death and securing the release of the hostages, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi told a disappointed nation that the hostages were not being released as planned on Thursday, but on Friday.

The abrupt change of plan, minutes after the leadership trio concluded its well-coordinated presentation of the deal that involves releasing at least 150 terrorists, some of them back to their homes that are next door to their intended victims, exposed the utter vulnerability of the Netanyahu government in face of a ruthless, unscrupulous, and smarter enemy that has been able to fool Israel, lulling it to sleep for two years, and then crushing its defenses in a few hours on October 7.

National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, October 31, 2023. / Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

There was one surefire way to overcome Hamas’s considerable advantages: deploy the full wrath of the IDF ground, air, and sea forces to kill every living Hamas terrorist, never mind the collateral damage; bring down every standing building in the Gaza Strip, and meticulously expose and explode every terrorist tunnel. There was nothing Hamas could do against the IDF war machine, and it was retreating and losing.

But then Hamas received the support it had been counting on, from thousands of useful idiots in Israel, who were driven to a frenzy by a well-organized and well-financed machine, with the unrelenting message: We want the hostages free NOW.

This was the purpose of the kidnapping of hundreds of innocent Israelis in the first place. Hamas proved to be the better chess player, able to think several moves ahead, unincumbered by feelings of shame or mercy. And the protesters were successful in inserting themselves into the war cabinet room, as messengers of the Hamas generals. They demanded, and achieved, the altering of the IDF goal, from defeating Hamas to releasing the hostages.

They also represented Hamas in a Knesset committee meeting that debated capital punishment for terrorists. How dare you discuss such a thing when Hamas can do to our loved ones what you plan to do to captured terrorists, they shrieked and managed to turn the meeting from a legitimate debate of ways to punish war criminals into a discussion of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s insensitivity and callousness.

And then, like a clever Jerry who got Tom squeezed in his trap, at the moment just before the promised release of the hostages, Hamas reneged.

According to an Israeli political source, Hamas insisted on changing some clauses in the agreement: “Hamas informed us through the mediator of its desire to make changes.”

Of course, it did. Because this makes clear to everyone, in Israel, but especially around the Arab world, who is in charge. Hamas refused to sign the deal as long as its demands were not met to the fullest.

“The Qataris informed us around 11 PM that Hamas did not sign the agreement. It seems that it is a matter between them and Hamas,” the same Israeli source told Kan 11.

Remember what Netanyahu told the nation that same evening? “I conducted tough negotiations. I spoke with Biden and thanked him for working to achieve a significant improvement of the outline that was reached.”

“What paved the way for the outline was massive military pressure on Hamas and great political pressure,” the PM boasted, and promised, “Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel.”

But fewer and fewer Israelis believe him.

There’s a good, reliable way for Tom to get out of Jerry’s trap: scrap the deal, declare that Hamas is not and never was a reliable side in negotiations, and go back to killing thousands of enemies in Gaza. Netanyahu, be a leader, not a follower. Win this war, and then hang the terrorists. Tell the families that you tried to get their loved ones released but the enemy is not willing to cooperate.

Be a leader, for heaven’s sake.


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