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Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 54th Day of War

On this, the 54th day of war in Israel, 10 more hostages came home last night and another round of 10 are expected later today as well. As of last night 60 Israelis had been freed from Hamas captivity.

Also what will happen when the official pause in hostilities officially ends on Thursday morning at 7 AM, Qatar is seeking to mediate a deal that would allow for the release of all the hostages. Qatar and Egypt, are mediating indirect talks between Hamas and Israel in Doha with the help of the US. Israeli officials were in Doha today to take part in the talks. The negotiators are reportedly working on two deals simultaneously with the larger one possibly including an end to the Gaza war that began on October 7th but this has been on hold since Friday.

The first arrangement could see the release of 20 to 30 Israelis over the next two to three days through an extension of an existing deal, leaving slightly less than 150 left in captivity by Sunday. The issue is highly pressurized given tomorrow morning’s deadline for the expiration of the current arrangement.

The second and larger deal under discussion would allow for those 150 Israeli captives yet in Gaza, out of the 240 hostages Hamas seized during its infiltration of southern Israel on October 7, to be freed.

The initial deal which went into effect last Friday sought to secure the release of all 98 women and children in Gaza. To date, there are still some eight Israelis ages 18 and under who are being forcibly held in the enclave.

The initial release was based on three formulas. Ten Israeli hostages are worth 24 hours of a lull in the Gaza War, which has been paused since Friday morning to allow for captive releases. For every day the Gaza war is on hold, at least 200 trucks of humanitarian aid can also enter the Strip.

For every Israeli woman or child captive freed, Israel would release three jailed Palestinian women and minors held on security-related offenses. To date, some 180 such prisoners have been freed and another 30 are set to be released tonight.

An article about the potential deal published in the Washington Post on Wednesday said the new deal would separate the remaining hostages into five categories. This would be men who are too old for reserve duty, male reservists, men serving in the army, the five fable soldiers, and those who have died.

It’s expected that Hamas could support a deal for the release of all the hostages, if it includes the release of Palestinian men jailed for serious terror offenses.

The breaking point is expected to be any inclusion in the deal of an end to the Gaza war. We have been clear about our intention to resume the military campaign to oust Hamas from Gaza once the hostages are freed. Hamas, in turn, wants to free hostages in exchange for an end to the war.

Israel has considered Hamas to be an existential threat that must be eliminated since the October 7 attack in which the terror group killed over 1,200 people, burning, dismembering and raping many of them.

In a first violation of the pause by Hamas, a few IEDs were detonated in northern Gaza close to the location of Israeli troops. Fortunately, there we no casualties on our side.

Today, the 16th of the Hebrew month of Kislev (Kaf Tet b’November) marks 76 years since the United Nations vote that established two states for two peoples, one for Jews and one for Arabs. Sadly, had the Arab leadership at the time accepted that decision, today the Palestinians would have been celebrating 75 years of independence. Instead, all of Israel’s neighbors attacked the nascent State of Israel when it was established after the British exited in May 1948 and the rest is history.  Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Am Yisrael Chai……The People of Israel Live.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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