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Israel’s dilemma – how to secure release of the hostages?

24 November 2023

After weeks of speculation and behind-the-scenes negotiations, this week Israel reached a deal with Hamas, brokered by US and Qatar. 

A temporary truce went into effect at 7am today, and is to last four days. A first group of 13 hostages is expected to be released this afternoon. Israel will release 39 prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

Our correspondent Yochanan Visser in Israel writes about the deal: “Hamas will release 12 to 13 hostages every day for the next few days. Among them are children and women (mothers). Palestinian Islamic Jihad says it will not release hostages “because they are not part of the deal and thus can continue their terrorist activities.” Of the 40 children being held, only 30 will be released, while of the 13 hostage mothers, only eight will be released. This immediately sparked criticism because it was always said that Israel would not allow Hamas to make a selection of children and mothers.

At this stage, Israel will release 150 female and juvenile Palestinian terrorists who are not being held for murder. These are young men aged 16 to 18 who were mostly convicted of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. Among the women are terrorists who wanted to carry out knife attacks or were involved in organizing terrorist attacks. If there were an extension of the cease-fire, another 150 Palestinian prisoners could be released. For every 12 to 13 hostages, 37 to 38 Palestinian prisoners would be released.

Israel will allow two hundred trucks carrying humanitarian aid per day into Gaza during the cease-fire, including fuel. The latter was also criticized for allowing Hamas to replenish its depleted supply of fuel.

Israel will withhold spy drones and balloons flying over Gaza for six hours a day during the four days of the cease-fire. This is also controversial because it would allow Hamas to move weapons and troops. However, the IDF and Shin Bet say Israel has other means of spying on Gaza. These could be spy satellites or drones that can observe from a high altitude without being seen from the ground.”

This shows what an incredibly difficult position Israel finds itself in. Hamas is using the hostages to maximum effect to tie Israel’s hands, and to ensure it can survive this war.

As Jonathan Tobin writes: “Israel’s government knew that it had no choice but to accept the deal it was offered in which some of the hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 would be freed in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners and a temporary ceasefire in the war to eliminate the terrorist group from the Gaza Strip. Pressure from the families of the hostages and a Jewish tradition that prioritizes the redemption of captives swamped all of the objections to giving Hamas what it wanted in exchange for the lives of Jewish women and children.”

There is also a lot of criticism of the deal. Some argue that this is a sign of weakness, and that Israel is succumbing to US pressure. The US is simultaneously undermining Israel’s position by refusing to confront Iran – the author and instigator of the 7th October attack – and insisting that Israel agree going forward to a two-state solution.

It is important to show our love and solidarity with Israel. Christians for Israel representatives have been in Israel this past week to meet and comfort the Jewish people. You can read their reports in this weekly update.

At this difficult time, let us pray for the hostages and their families. Let us pray for the Israeli government, and for the soldiers in Gaza.

It is also very important to pray that the Palestinian people in Gaza will be released as quickly as possible from the evil regime of Hamas.

Above all, let us pray for the coming of Messiah, who will judge the nations and wipe away the tears from every eye.

The Editorial Team – Israel & Christians Today

 

The infernal choice behind the hostage deal
Melanie Philips writes: “Israel is in this terrible situation principally because of America.”
> Read more..

Journey of Encouragement
Last week, C4I International chairman Leon Meijer and his wife Janine and Christians for Israel NZ Director Bryce Turner are in Israel to visit C4I projects and encourage the people of Israel.
> Read report of Leon & Janine
> Read report of Bryce

We Stand with Israel VIDEO
As Christians, we need to stand with Israel. C4I affiliates around the world have joined rallies and meetings to express their support for Israel.

Israel at War – a multi-dimensional conflict
Kameel Majdali writes: “It’s war, alright, a multi-dimensional one. In the latter arena—the all- important spiritual dimension—the Church is best equipped to fight. Its armoury is unbeatable (2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Ephesians 6:10-14; 1 John 3:8; 4:4).  Intercessors will save the world!  It’s time to be strong in the Lord, put on the whole armour of God, and go to work.”
> Read more..


Existential Hardship | The Book of RUTH with Johannes Gerloff #25

The Bible does not whitewash the state of this world any more than it does the behavior of people. Ruth is not afraid of hard work. We see no trace of self-pity.

SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK:

Isaiah 42:5-7

This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.