Israelis celebrate release of four hostages but maintain pressure on Netanyahu

“Israelis, entering the ninth month of a war that appears to have devolved into a military quagmire, a diplomatic standoff and the object of global condemnation, finally had reason to rejoice on Saturday. And they did not fail to do so”, notices the Washington Post.

“Thousands of people gathered early in the afternoon on the Tel Aviv square renamed the Square of the Hostages and the Missing”, tell El País. “The rescue (of the four hostages) transformed the main forum’s weekly demonstration demanding the prisoners’ release into a mixture of celebration and a call for Netanyahu not to forget the other hostages and not bet everything on ‘army” to obtain their release.

As Israelis celebrated the return of the hostages, “Palestinians in Gaza mourned dozens of deaths or watched over their loved ones in the overcrowded Al-Aqsa hospital, the only one in the region still partially operational”, notes for its part The Guardian. According to the press service of the Hamas government, the Israeli army operation left at least 210 dead and more than 400 injured on the Palestinian side.

Saturday noon, the IDF announced the rescue, during a military operation “complex” in Nuseirat, in the center of the Gaza Strip, of Noa Argamani (26 years old), Almog Meir Jan (22 years old), Andrey Kozlov (27 years old), and Shlomi Ziv (41 years old). They were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, from the site of the Nova electro music festival.

“Politics takes precedence”

“The operation is a breath of fresh air for Netanyahu”which negotiates indirectly “a new exchange” hostages and prisoners with Hamas, continues El País. The Israeli Prime Minister has always said “that exerting ‘military pressure’ (on Hamas) would encourage the return of the hostages, by weakening the Islamists’ negotiating capacities. He is contradicted by the facts, but the rescue earns him points”.

“This heroic operation brings a breath of fresh air to the IDF and the Israeli population”, added the Jerusalem Post, “but it will probably lead Hamas to improve its surveillance of the other hostages”he adds, while nearly 120 people are still held prisoner by the armed group – a “huge means of pressure”.

Fact, if Ha’Aretz welcomes of the release of the four Israelis, he emphasizes that “the number of hostages released so far, seven as part of special operations and 109 as part of agreements with Hamas”proves that “while some hostages can be rescued during special operations, they can only be released in their entirety as part of an agreement with Hamas”.

But everyday life has few illusions because “Facts don’t matter when politics prevail”. And note that “the speed with which Netanyahu’s spokesmen attempted to use the hostage rescue to weaken their leader’s rivals can only be compared to the speed with which Netanyahu – who as prime minister is not expected, by convention, to engage in public activity on Shabbat – rushed to the hospital to have his photo taken with the freed hostages”.

“Endless war”

An opinion shared by Kenneth Roth, former executive director of the American organization Human Rights Watch and visiting professor at Princeton University. In an interview with Al Jazeerahe estimates that “Netanyahu poses a major obstacle to concluding negotiations with Hamas because he is unwilling to accept a permanent, long-term ceasefire as demanded by Hamas”.

For Mr. Roth, “Netanyahu needs a never-ending war” because when the conflict stops, he will have to “taking political account of the failure of the intelligence services on October 7”the day of the Hamas attack that started the war.

The only immediate benefit for the Israeli Prime Minister, according to New York Times : Benny Gantz, member of the war cabinet and great adversary of Mr. Netanyahu, “who had threatened to leave the government over the prime minister’s refusal to talk about a post-war plan for Gaza, postponed a press conference scheduled for Saturday evening indefinitely, citing ‘recent events’”.

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