9:47 a.m. ET, November 30, 2023
Analysis: Israel and Hamas have a lot to gain from a truce extension. But fighting is likely to resume anyway
Both Israel and Hamas may have a lot to gain from an extension of the current truce. But experts say the eventual resumption of Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip is inevitable.
For Israel, an extension means the return of tens of more hostages, which is particularly important for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has come under intense pressure from the Israeli public to bring the hostages home. For Hamas, it offers a respite from fighting, a chance to regroup and benefit from the aid gradually making its way into the besieged territory.
Israel has released 180 Palestinian women and minors from prison, many of whom were detained and never charged.
“The main interest (for Israelis) is in getting those hostages home,” Gershon Baskin, a former Israeli hostage negotiator who once acted as a channel to Hamas, told CNN. “The whole country is glued to the television watching them transported in Red Cross cars and then landing in Israel.”
For Hamas, Baskin said, there is no need to hold civilian hostages. “It is a burden on their logistics,” he said, adding that they likely only want to keep Israeli troops as hostages. Israel has not said how many of its soldiers are being held by the militant group, but Baskin said there is little expectation that Hamas will release them as part of the current deal.
With a truce extension, Hamas may also be hoping that international pressure will pile on Israel to avoid a resumption of the war, Baskin said while noting that Israeli society is overwhelmingly supportive of a conflict that eliminates Hamas once and for all.
Baskin said it is extremely unlikely that after seven weeks, Hamas cannot locate the rest of the hostages, adding that the group is likely propagating that news to stall the negotiations.
“It’s a delay tactic on the part of Hamas,” he said, adding that the group is too powerful and too centralized in the enclave to lose sight of the hostages.