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US Wants Hostage Deal before Ramadan

February 22, 2024

by: Itamar Eichner and Einav Halabi ~ Ynetnews

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US President Biden hopes to return the hostages to Israel before the Muslim month of Ramadan (illustrative).

Thursday, 22 February 2024 | The Biden administration is increasing efforts to bring about a cease-fire in Gaza ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan [one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed], due to begin March 10. American officials believe the release of the hostages, who have been held in inhumane conditions for the last 138 days, would result in a pause in the fighting and perhaps end the war, according to a CNN report.

Washington is concerned that an Israeli military assault during the holy month would only increase regional tensions. The officials said Israel was explicitly warned against attacking Rafah where 1.5 million refugees currently are concentrated and that ensuring their safety is an impossible task.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials said representatives would most probably join the Paris summit on Saturday to advance negotiations on a hostage release agreement.

Officials involved in the discussions said it is unclear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will prefer a pause in the fighting over a military operation in Rafah that would advance the objective of destroying Hamas.

“It does not seem like Netanyahu is willing to make any deals at the moment,” a senior Israeli diplomat said.

He added that, in the meetings in Cairo last week, the Israeli delegation headed by Mossad chief David Barnea was only prepared to discuss the humanitarian aspects of a deal and that no technical team was sent with Barnea, indicating there was no real intention of negotiating a new deal.

Reliable sources told Ynet on Wednesday evening that the Hamas leadership based in Qatar had contact with the terror leaders in Gaza after a break in communications that caused delays in talks with the mediators in Egypt and in Qatar on a future agreement because Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar could not be reached.

The message from Gaza is that negotiations should concentrate on a partial, “humanitarian” deal and not a comprehensive solution to the hostage crisis and the war. Hamas leaders in the Strip also said that the terror group was willing to consider lowering the number of Palestinian prisoners it is demanding in exchange for hostages, reducing its demands for international assurances to rebuild Gaza and changing the demand for a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Strip and an end to the fighting.

Earlier, War Cabinet member Benny Gantz said there were initial signs of progress toward a new agreement. “I would like to assure the families of the hostages, who show such strength of spirit, that we are leaving no stone unturned to fulfill our mission, which the government is responsible for. There are attempts to advance a new outline and initial signs that progress is possible,” he said.

Posted on February 22, 2024

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Ynetnews on February 21, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: US Embassy Tel Aviv/

Photo License: Wikimedia