November 28, 2023

Hostages Freed

An Israel-Hamas truce in the Gaza Strip stretched into a fifth day on Tuesday as the two sides completed the release of Israeli hostages and detained Palestinians under their original ceasefire deal and appeared poised to free more. Israel on Monday said 11 Israelis had returned to the country from the Gaza Strip, bringing to 69 the total of Israeli and foreign hostages the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas has freed since Friday under the four-day truce…

“The Israel Prison Service said 33 Palestinian prisoners were released on Monday from Israel's Ofer prison in the West Bank and from a detention centre in Jerusalem, bringing the total number of Palestinians it has freed since Friday to 150.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left celebrates the freeing of the hostages, and criticizes Israel’s policy of imprisoning Palestinians who have not been convicted of any crimes.

“If President Biden had listened to demands from the left to condition aid to Israel, publicly condemn its war operations or demand an immediate cease-fire, there is little chance any hostages would have been released… Publicly, Biden never wavered from support for Israel’s war aims. Biden increasingly joined his message of support, however, with the second part of his message: Palestinians are victims of Hamas as well…

“In private, meanwhile, Biden used that political capital to pressure Israel for a pause and to increase humanitarian aid… In constant contact with Qatar and Egypt and with a fully empowered negotiating team working the details, he forced all sides to reach an agreement for a pause and hostage release. Few Middle East experts think Netanyahu ever would have agreed to a pause absent all hostages’ release if not for Biden.”

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

Israeli jails hold thousands of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are held under administrative detention — meaning indefinitely and without being charged, for reasons as minor as a social media post or nonviolent protest — in the name of national security. Those who do get a trial are tried in military courts, where the conviction rate is around 99 percent.”

Ellen Ioanes, Vox

“Of the 300 names Israel proposed for potential release, 233 of them have not been convicted of any crimes… 124 of the prisoners are under the age of 18… They often are denied access to lawyers and to purported evidence against them… If, as Israel alleges, these people have committed violent crimes, particularly against civilians, then Israel should give them full rights to due process, to see the alleged evidence against them, and they should be tried in civilian courts with the same rights afforded Israeli defendants.”

Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept

“President Biden recently declared his desire to see a ‘revitalized’ Palestinian government that could bring together Gaza and the West Bank under ‘a single governance structure.’ That is a worthy aim, and Biden certainly deserves points for declaring it… There’s one step that he can take right now toward achieving his goal: Recognize Palestine as a member state in the United Nations.”

Daoud Kuttab, Washington Post

From the Right

The right celebrates the freeing of the hostages, but cautions that Hamas must still be defeated militarily.

The right celebrates the freeing of the hostages, but cautions that Hamas must still be defeated militarily.

“No one can blame Jerusalem for choosing to make the return of its hostages a top priority. Yet Israel faces a ticking clock: World pressure to ‘permanently’ end the war keeps growing. And if the past is any guide, Israel will be forced to call off its campaign against Hamas prematurely (recall its conflicts with Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, which now has as many as 150,000 rockets)…

“Yet much is left to be done: Hamas vowed weeks ago to continue its attacks ‘again and again’ until Israel is destroyed; one of its leaders, Khaled Mashal, bragged Friday that the terror group’s tunnels and weapons remain intact and that it can and will use them to launch new attacks on Israel. Either Hamas is destroyed, in other words, or Israel is: Hamas has made clear that it’s life or death for both sides.”

Editorial Board, New York Post

“If Hamas (and all the other Palestinian terrorist groups) put their weapons down, there would be peace. If Israel put its weapons down, Hamas would continue to slaughter civilians in its efforts to erase Israel off the map. If anything, Israel is pursuing a permanent ceasefire by setting out to destroy Hamas once and for all. No ceasefire can meaningfully last when one party is a terrorist organization that makes violence and destruction a central tenet of its charter.”

Zachary Faria, Washington Examiner

“The Biden administration wants Israel to bring in Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party to rule Gaza when the war is over. Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority, which governs much of the West Bank… But Fatah is a junior-varsity version of Hamas

“Fatah has celebrated and glorified the Oct. 7 orgy of torture and murder. The party has boasted that its members directly participated in the invasion, crossing into Israel and brutalizing civilians. A video shown on a West Bank-based Telegram channel that has been repeatedly cited by official Fatah sources shows terrorists with the yellow headbands of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade firing Kalashnikovs while assaulting an Israeli kibbutz…

“The evidence of actual participation by Fatah members, combined with the endorsement by official Fatah organs, should disqualify Fatah and any government of which it is a part from any leadership role in Gaza.”

Eugene Kontorovich and Itamar Marcus, Wall Street Journal

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