Israel has refused to sign a large-scope ceasefire agreement with Hamas unless the terrorist organization returns Israeli hostages and IDF soldiers’ bodies to their homes, according to worldisraelnews.com. However, the two sides are making progress on a prisoner exchange. Israel Hayom reported that the two are negotiating a swap that would send Palestinian prisoners who were captured, released in 2011, then recaptured after acts of terrorism, to Hamas while returning two Israelis who had crossed into the Gaza strip and the bodies of two IDF soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war. Reports conflict concerning the likelihood of a deal, as Hamas “reject[s] the very premise of holding such talks.” Yet preliminary discussions have featured proposed details including rebuilding landline phone, water, and sewage infrastructure, laying new infrastructure for power lines in public buildings, allowing more Gazans to enter and work in Israel, building a natural gas pipeline, and expanding the fishing zone. This would be contingent upon Hamas stopping its rocket attacks and holding fewer border protests. Hamas has announced that in March it will hold protests only once a month and on “national occasions” as opposed to the weekly protests held now.
If you’ve seen enough action movies, you’ve probably heard a government leader in the movie say, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” Yet there seems to be plenty of incentives to agree to a deal in this case, especially for Hamas. The prisoner swap sounds like a fair trade, but Israel appears to be offering further help through the ceasefire deal, likely in an act of goodwill. Israel is willing to offer government assistance to improve the quality of life for those who seek their destruction. This is commendable! And it’s not even necessary.
Hamas is not a country. It is a militant organization that thrives on terrorism to destroy Israel. It doesn’t deserve the rights of a country as such. Israel could choose to act aggressively against Hamas or not recognize its demands. But the fact that the two sides are sitting down together to discuss a civil agreement is a good sign for peace, I believe. Hamas stands to benefit from the construction efforts Israel has reportedly offered, and returning prisoners to their homes could ease tensions, which are always boiling between the two sides. Of course, perhaps the biggest benefit could be more lives saved by ending the rocket strikes and border protests Hamas uses to terrorize Israel. We’ll see which reports are proven true in the coming weeks, as there may be no momentum behind these talks at all. But if Israel does indeed negotiate with terrorists, we can pray that the result is safety and restoration.