While a short-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has been delayed by one day until Friday, the terms of the deal will allow for a four day pause from hostilities in exchange for the release of captives held on either side.
Hamas will release 50 hostages of the approximately 240 hostages it kidnapped on October 7, starting with women and children, over the course of four days. Meanwhile, Israel will release three Palestinian prisoners for every Israeli hostage freed, 150 individuals to start, who represent a fraction of the thousands of Palestinians caught up in Israel’s security apparatus, imprisoned without charges or a trial, in “administrative detention.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said every 10 additional hostages released by Hamas would extend the ceasefire agreement by a day.
In Edmonton, the news has been greeted with cautious optimism.
“I think news of the ceasefire and of the release of some of the hostages is a move in a positive direction. I’m hopeful that it will lead to further releases and that all of the hostages can come home safely,” said Daniel Moser, an Edmonton-based editor with Alberta Jewish News.
“I think a lot of it will depend on how willing Hamas and the ground troops are to engage in the ceasefire. I know past ceasefires have not gone as well as … the broader international community has hoped,
“I am hopeful, though, that this ceasefire will lead to a longer lasting ceasefire, and you know, at the end of the day, peace in the region,” Moser said.
A Palestinian organiser in Edmonton is hopeful the ceasefire can produce lasting peace.
“I really do hope for lasting peace. I really hope that will be the last time I see … people in that region die. They deserve to live. All of them. All of the people of that region, they deserve to live and [be] prosperous and be happy,” said Moustafa Zarandah, the organiser of Run for Palestine, a Qatari-born man of Palestinian descent who immigrated to Canada two decades ago.
“I have family [in Gaza],” Zarandah said. “I want my family to live. I want them to be able to eat food. I want them to be able to drink clean water. And I want to stop seeing those videos of kids being murdered,”
Moser said he too has familial ties in Israel.
“I have a cousin who was a reservist and he’s been called up into active duty. And we also had some friends of the family who were presumed to be taken [hostage] on October 7th.
“Their remains were unfortunately discovered, and they were in fact murdered on October 7th,” Moser said.
In addition to the hostage-taking, the initial Hamas incursion into Israel left about 1,200 dead – a revised count from the initial 1,400 estimate cited by the Israeli government – many of them innocent civilians who were massacred while attending an outdoor music festival.
Human Rights Watch called the hostage-taking and massacre committed by Hamas war crimes. In the same article, HRW also raised concern with Israel’s “systematic oppression,” of Palestinians, describing their treatment by the Israeli state as “apartheid and oppression.” United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has decried Hamas for taking civilian hostages and using human shields, while also leveling grave concern with Israel’s blanket siege on Gaza.
The Israeli retaliation has resulted in relentless airstrikes showering bombs upon the densely populated Gaza region, killing an estimated 14,500 people, per Palestinian authorities. That figure includes an estimate of more than 5,600 children. Israel’s clamp down on Gaza has made it difficult to transport necessities such as food, water, fuel, and electricity into the region. Israel has stated its goal is to dismantle Hamas, which Canada has listed as a terrorist organisation since 2002.
Below: Featured image credit to UK Defence Journal.