ANALYSIS | Israel and Hamas have much to gain from an extension of the truce, but fighting is likely to resume anyway
At this point in the lull of fighting between Israel and Hamas, both parties could gain from an extension of the current truce. Negotiators are working towards achieving an extension, which presents an opportunity for the release of more hostages and the prolongation of the pause in the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.
For Israel, this extension would mean the return of dozens more hostages, particularly crucial for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces pressure from the Israeli public to bring the hostages back home. On the other hand, Hamas sees this as a chance to have a respite from the fighting and regroup, while also benefiting from the aid that is gradually reaching the besieged territory.
During the truce, a significant number of hostages were released, with Hamas freeing 81 hostages, mainly women and children, and Israel releasing 180 Palestinian women and children from prison. Despite the negotiations, it is inevitable that the eventual resumption of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza will ensue.
Israel’s far-right government, particularly some ministers, are eager to ensure that fighting resumes. However, negotiations are likely to be complicated by reports that Hamas may not be in possession of all the hostages. A diplomatic source briefed on the negotiations revealed that more than 40 hostages are not currently held by Hamas. Additionally, there is an estimated 40 to 50 hostages held by Palestinian Islamic Jihad or other groups or individuals.
Furthermore, Israel estimates that 159 hostages are still in Gaza. Given these developments, it is apparent that fighting may likely resume in the region despite ongoing negotiations between the two parties.