Potential hostage deal to release 80 women, children ‘in the works’

A Biden administration official confirmed to NBC News on Sunday that a deal for releasing the hostages was in the works.

By World Israel News and JNS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there could be a hostage deal with Hamas, speaking in an interview with NBC News‘ “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

“I think the less I say about it, the more I’ll increase the chances that it materializes,” the prime minister said, declining to give details.

A Biden administration official, speaking anonymously, told NBC that a deal could involve the release of about 80 women and children in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and teenagers held by Israel, but stressed that nothing was certain.

Hamas took some 240 persons hostage during its Oct. 7 attack on Israeli communities in the northwestern Negev, in which terrorist operatives also killed more than 1,200 persons, mostly civilians.

Netanyahu argued that Israel’s ground operation in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas has turned into a terror base since it seized power there in 2007, brings the possibility of freeing the hostages closer and not the reverse, as some have suggested.

Read  'Biden Doctrine' demands a demilitarized Palestinian state, says NYT's Thomas Friedman

“We heard that there was an impending deal of this kind or of that kind and then we learned that it was all hokum. But the minute we started the ground operation that began to change,” he said.

“Military pressure,” Netanyahu went on, “is the one thing that might create a deal, and if a deal is available, well, we will talk about it when it’s there. We’ll announce it if it’s achievable.”

So far the IDF has succeeded in freeing one hostage, Pvt. Ori Megidish, 19, on Oct. 30, three weeks after Hamas kidnapped her from the army’s Nahal Oz Base.

Hamas released a mother and daughter with dual Israel and American citizenship on Oct. 20 and two elderly women on Oct. 23.

Asked if he knew where the hostages were being held, Netanyahu said: “We know a great deal, but I won’t go beyond that.”

The Biden administration official confirmed to NBC News on Sunday that a deal for releasing the hostages was in the works.

Read  Biden to punish 'radical Israeli settlers' after nearly sanctioning senior Israeli ministers

The Palestinians who might be released are security prisoners held by Israel for involvement in terrorism.

Netanyahu also reiterated to NBC comments he made on Saturday night that Israel must maintain security control over the Gaza Strip.

“I think that the only force right now that can guarantee that Hamas terrorism does not reappear and take over Gaza again is the Israeli military. So overall military responsibility will have to be with Israel,” the prime minister said.

“We haven’t seen any Palestinian force, including the Palestinian Authority, that has been able to do it,” he added, noting that the P.A. pays terrorists to kill Jews.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Gantz at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Saturday, Netanyahu said:

“The IDF will continue to have security control over the Gaza Strip for as long as necessary to prevent terrorism from it. The massacre on Oct. 7 proved once and for all that wherever there is no Israeli security control, terrorism will return and establish itself. Therefore, I will not agree to concede security control under any circumstances.”