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Israel Prepared to Stall Gaza Assault for Negotiations Over Hostage Release

(Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

By: Jake Smith, Daily Caller News Foundation

Israel is willing to delay its ground invasion of the Gaza Strip for a few days to permit negotiations on the release of hostages Hamas is currently holding, which could give the Israel Defense Force (IDF) extra time to formulate an assault plan.

Hamas kidnapped over 200 civilians during a mass terrorist attack against Israel that has killed over 1,400 Israelis since Oct. 7. Israel has launched airstrikes into Gaza and is prepping for a ground assault to root out the terror group completely, but is willing to temporarily hold off for discussions to take place on Hamas releasing a “big” number of hostages, according to Israeli officials who spoke to Axios.

“Both Israel and the Biden administration want to exhaust every effort to try and get hostages out of Gaza,” a high-level Israeli official told Axios. “If Hamas proposes a big package, of course we will be ready to do things in return.”

A condition of a potential deal would require Hamas to release all women and children currently hostage in Gaza, the Israeli officials told Axios. Israel has been wary to accept offers from Hamas to release a small number of hostages at a time in exchange for temporary cease-fires, out of fear that the slow process would give the terrorist group enough time to rebuild its strength.

The Israeli officials also noted that the IDF would eventually carry out its ground assault regardless of a potential deal with Hamas, Axios reported. While any delay is not the desired outcome, it could also give the IDF additional time to plan for the ground assault, which it could need as Hamas is dug in within a tunnel network deep underground within densely populated Gaza, according to experts who spoke to the DCNF.

“The media and likely much of the public is treating Israel invading some or all of the Gaza Strip as a military walk in the park. That does not do justice to the monumental operation such an invasion would become,” William Thibeau, director of the American Military Project at the Center for the American Way of Life, told the DCNF. “There is not a historical parallel for the urban-civilian and military dynamic at place.”

The Biden administration has urged Israel to hold off on launching a ground offensive until more hostages can be secured and humanitarian aid can be delivered to Gaza civilians, according to The New York Times. The administration is deferring to Israel on whether to make that choice, and has publicly reaffirmed the country’s right to self-defense.

“Israel has the right to defend itself. We must make sure they have what they need to protect their people today and always,” President Joe Biden said on Sunday. “At the same time, Prime Minister Netanyahu and I have discussed how Israel must operate by the laws of war. That means protecting civilians in combat as best as they can.”

IDF and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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