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With the situation on the ground constantly evolving, we decided to collect here some information that allows you to get an idea of the broader context through maps, fact sheets and in-depth information.
For four days, thousands of people have been marching towards Jerusalem – starting from Tel Aviv – to demand the release of the Israeli hostages held prisoner by Hamas in Gaza. Tomorrow, Saturday 18 November, it will all end with a demonstration in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, right in Jerusalem. Meanwhile – according to the media – the German ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert joined the march and launched the appeal for the unconditional release of all the hostages (ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR: THE SPECIAL – UPDATES).
The march started on November 14th from Tel Aviv, destination Jerusalem, to continue to raise awareness of their loved ones and pressure on the national emergency government. Two days ago the families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas said they had requested to meet with members of the war cabinet, but that their request had not been accepted. “We will no longer remain silent, we will intensify the fight,” the family said, adding that “Israeli citizens must know that the members of the war cabinet have no time for us.”
Netanyahu – who from January to September was hotly contested in the country for his judicial reform designed to forever weaken the judiciary – cannot ignore a social phenomenon that is taking hold in the streets of Israel. The movement organized by the families of 240 hostages captured by Hamas is loudly calling for their relatives to be brought back. Thousands took part in the march. The streets of many cities are plastered with photographs of the hostages, yellow ribbons of solidarity with the families are tied to the car mirrors. This is a very large popular protest, not aligned with the right or the left.
The nuanced agreements
Until a few days ago, the agreement between Hamas and Israel for the release of at least some of the hostages – 239 in total – seemed close. The basis of negotiations, mediated by Qatar and agreed with the United States, provided for the release of 50 Israelis held in the Gaza underground in exchange for a three-day ceasefire on the Strip. But, according to Arab and Palestinian sources cited by Haaretz, the talks have entered a new phase of stalemate: Hamas – which also accepted “the general lines” of the agreement – raised the stakes and Israel refused. According to the Reuters agency, the terrorist organization has given its general approval to the agreement which should also include the release of some Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons and the green light for a greater influx of humanitarian aid directed to the population of Gaza. However, the same agency added, citing an official informed of the dossier, Israel has not yet said yes and is negotiating the details. For its part, Hamas accused Israel of “temporizing” in reaching the agreement, thus delaying the release of 50 hostages “to continue its aggression and its war against defenseless civilians”.
The new obstacles
But what would actually hinder the agreement would be new conditions imposed by Hamas that Israel does not intend to accept. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Palestinian militiamen asked for 5 days of truce instead of the three that Israel was willing to grant. Not only that: Hamas has also asked to allow freedom of movement between the south and north of Gaza. But the probably most unacceptable request for Israel is that, in addition to stopping the air raids and actions on the ground, the Israeli army also stops the overflight of its drones over the Strip in those days: Hamas fears in fact that Israeli surveillance will reveal the its operational and intelligence strategies and, above all, the location of the hostages, including those who will not be released under the agreement, currently the most powerful weapon in the hands of terrorists against the enemy. Not even the soldiers’ raid on Al-Shifa hospital led to their prison being identified.