Dozens of family members of Hamas hostages stormed Israel’s parliament Monday demanding immediate action on their release. The protesters shouted, “You won’t sit here while they are dying there!” the Associated Press reported, and some were physically restrained.
Protests calling for hostage negotiations have increased after more than 100 days since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Some protesters have camped out in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem, and others have called for an election.
There is also increasing international scrutiny on Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. Both Mexico and Chile backed calls for the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes against civilians in Gaza, following South Africa’s high-profile case at the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians
Israel rejected hostage deal which called for permanent ceasefire
Negotiations to secure the release of hostages have repeatedly failed, and Netanyahu reportedly rejected a deal with Hamas that would’ve seen the return of hostages in exchange for a permanent cessation of hostilities. One diplomat told NBC News that some details have been negotiated, however: Israel and Hamas may soon agree to a one-month pause in fighting, with hostages released by Hamas in three phases. There are some divisions appearing within the Israeli war cabinet, The Wall Street Journal reported, as not everyone shares Netanyahu’s hardline response to Hamas. Gadi Eisenkot, a non-voting member of the cabinet, said in a recent interview that “it is impossible to return the hostages alive in the near future without an agreement.”
Israelis open to Palestinian statehood one poll finds, even as government rejects possibility
Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected calls from Washington and other allies for a two-state solution. Palestinian statehood has been touted as crucial for lasting stability in the region, but Netanyahu and previous Israeli governments have long resisted efforts for its establishment. The Israeli public, though, support the idea: Recent polling found that a U.S. plan to establish a Palestinian state that is linked to the release of hostages and a normalization of ties with Saudi Arabia had broad support, Haaretz reported. The findings upend a long-held assumption that the Israeli public would reject a two-state solution. “Our impression is that the Israeli public has lost faith in any kind of agreement with the Palestinians,” one diplomat involved in negotiations told the paper. “It needs to be encouraged, and they need to be shown reason to hope for such a process.”
Israeli plan to eliminate Hamas not compatible with freeing hostages
Strategists increasingly view Israel’s military objective of destroying Hamas’ operations in Gaza as incompatible with freeing hostages taken on Oct. 7, The New York Times reported. Generals who spoke to the paper said that Israel’s war plans would likely kill hostages that remain in the enclave. Of the estimated 132 hostages in Gaza, around 30 are estimated to have died. And of the more than 100 who have been freed, only one was released in an Israeli rescue operation, while the rest were freed as part of a temporary truce agreement. One war expert called the war a “stalemate,” telling the Times that “it’s not an environment where you can free hostages.”