Israel-Hamas truce: Is this the end of the conflict?

Hamas fighters accompany a newly released Israeli hostage to a Red Cross vehicle in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. (AFP)
Hamas fighters accompany a newly released Israeli hostage to a Red Cross vehicle in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. (AFP)

Summary

  • Scores of hostages have been freed, and the pause in the fighting has also allowed humanitarian relief to reach thousands. But the war may not be over yet

Scores of hostages have been freed, and the pause in the fighting has also allowed humanitarian relief to reach thousands. This may not be the end of the conflict, which has claimed over 11,000 lives since Hamas’ 7 October terror attack. But how exactly did we get here?

What are the terms of the truce?

The truce was brokered by the United States, Qatar, and Egypt. Under its terms, a pause in fighting was put into place for four days, giving both sides time to exchange hostages. The truce came into effect on Friday and 24 captives held in Gaza were released while Israel released 39 Palestinians from prison. On Sunday, a second group of hostages were released by Hamas. In total, 50 Israeli hostages are expected to be exchanged for 150 Palestinians prisoners. The truce will also allow deliveries of fuel and aid to flow into Gaza, which has faced an acute humanitarian crisis since the fighting began.

How has the world responded?

Many welcomed it. US President Joe Biden hailed the deal. China, Russia, the European Union, France, the UK, Egypt and Qatar all saw the truce as a positive development. Other countries such as Jordan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia weighed in and stated that humanitarian aid should continue. However, a worrying constituency of opposition has come up in Israel. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the hardline minister for national security, opposed the truce and stated that it would only give Hamas more time to regroup. He also stated that the truce deal would cause “great harm for generations".

What was the motivation for the truce?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced mounting pressure at home to secure the release of hostages. Israel’s longtime leader has seen public support erode after the attacks. Many believe the objective of securing hostages has been given short shrift. Public sentiment combined with international pressure made the deal happen.

How long will this truce hold?

While it has held up so far, it is still fragile. For example, the second batch of hostage releases was delayed by Hamas, which accused Israel of violating the agreement. Intervention by Qatar and Egypt reportedly kept the exchange of prisoners going. Israel has offered to extend the truce if more hostages are released. “We are not ending the war. We will continue until we are victorious," said Lt Gen. Herzi Halevi, chief of the Israeli general staff, just days ago. Israel has not yet achieved its stated goal of destroying Hamas.

What has India’s position been?

New Delhi has tried to follow a balanced position on the conflict. It condemned Hamas’ attacks as an act of terrorism. However, it has also called for humanitarian law to be respected and for aid to be allowed into Gaza as Israel’s military campaign there has escalated. India may welcome the truce, given its emphasis on dialogue and diplomacy for resolving conflicts. Indeed, its UN envoy has called for humanitarian aid to continue and for all parties to work for “early restoration of peace and stability".

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