A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has entered its fourth and final day and pressure is mounting on both sides to extend the ceasefire.
As of Friday, Hamas has so far Freed 58 hostagesAnd Israel has released 117 Palestinian prisoners from its prisons.
But even if both Israel and Hamas were willing to extend the ceasefire, doing so would be fraught with difficulties.
Logistical problems: Not all of the roughly 240 people taken into Gaza during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel belonged to the militant group Hamas, which launched the attack. There are more than 40 hostages They are being held by groups other than Hamas, a diplomatic source briefed on the talks told CNN.
CNN previously reported that between 40 and 50 hostages were being held Palestinian Islamic Jihad or other militant groups.
A cease-fire agreement requires Hamas — not another group — to hand over hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. So even if Hamas is willing to extend the ceasefire, it may struggle to find additional hostages. Their release may also be difficult, as communications in Gaza have been disrupted by Israeli airstrikes.
Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani – who helped broker the initial deal – said Financial Times Any extension of the fighting depends on Hamas being able to find more hostages.
“If they get more women and children, there will be an extension,” al-Thani said, adding that one of the aims of the ceasefire was for Hamas to “search for the missing”.
Strategic Issues: Extending the ceasefire in exchange for the release of more hostages could pose strategic problems for Israel and Hamas.
For Hamas, holding hostages gives them the only real leverage they have over Israel. The promise to release the hostages was what led to Israel’s repentance during the Seven Weeks War.
In exchange for the release of Israeli hostages, Hamas may soon raise its price, demanding longer pauses in fighting or a larger number of freed Palestinian prisoners. There will be a limit to the number of hostages Hamas is willing to release because it does not want to give up its influence over Israel.
For Israel, the cease-fire agreement has allowed it to take steps to achieve one of its own War aims: Securing the release of Israeli hostages. But extending the ceasefire further would make it harder to achieve its ultimate war objective – the destruction of Hamas.
An Israeli study found that freeing all hostages was a more important war objective than defeating Hamas. Israel’s Democratic Initiative Before the ceasefire was announced last week. But the Israeli government has insisted it is committed to achieving both goals.
Each day there is a pause in the fighting, giving Hamas more time to regroup, ahead of a possible escalation of the fighting. South of the Gaza Strip. Under an initial deal, Israel and the US agreed to suspend surveillance drone flights over Gaza – Israel’s one Reluctance to doBecause it would cost Hamas fighters mobility.
Thus, extending the ceasefire could further one of Israel’s war aims, delaying and frustrating the other.
CNN’s Becky Anderson reported for this post.