ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Israel said to mull sparing Hamas chiefs, exiling them, to free hostages and end war

Report says option is in discussion but not currently on the table; Gazans take to streets of Rafah after Hamas gunmen shoot young man dead over humanitarian aid supplies

Hamas leaders Muhammad Deif (L) and Yahya Sinwar (HO / AFP, MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Hamas leaders Muhammad Deif (L) and Yahya Sinwar (HO / AFP, MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Israel is reportedly weighing the option of not killing Hamas leaders in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and Muhammad Deif, if and when the opportunity arises, and instead handing them immunity of sorts and deporting them to Qatar or another country, according to a Sunday report.

The agreement would only be made as part of a solution that would secure the release of all hostages held in Gaza and end the war against the terror group, the Kan public broadcaster report said, citing several unnamed Israeli sources.

The report came as Israeli officials confirmed Sunday that Egypt had placed on the table a new proposal for a truce in the war with Hamas and the release of more Israeli hostages held in Gaza, with some indicating that Jerusalem is not flat-out rejecting the draft and that it could lead to negotiations.

The war erupted on October 7 when Hamas led thousands of terrorists to burst into Israel from Gaza, killing some 1,200 people and kidnapping over 240, mostly civilians. Israel responded with a military campaign in Gaza aimed at destroying Hamas, removing it from power in the coastal enclave, and releasing the hostages. A previous weeklong truce in November secured the release of 105 of the hostages.

The Kan report said that the security and political leadership have been discussing the option of exiling the Hamas leaders rather than assassinating them, though there was no concrete proposal on the table as yet.

Stressing that it would be a long-term option that is not relevant right now, the report cited a source as saying any such plan must not harm the stated goal of dismantling Hamas’s leadership and military capabilities.

Another source was quoted in the report as saying that “deporting the Hamas leadership abroad doesn’t contradict the war goals.”

Separately, Hebrew media outlets published footage circulating on social media of violent scenes on the streets of Rafah in southern Gaza on Sunday, which erupted after Hamas gunmen shot and killed a young Palestinian man who approached an humanitarian aid truck.

The man was identified in the reports as Ahmed Barika, a member of a large Gazan family.

A short time after the incident, members of the Barika family took to the streets, cursing Hamas and vowing to avenge his death. Footage published by Channel 12 showed Gazans lighting tires on fire, setting fire to a Hamas police station, and threatening to kill the Hamas gunman who shot Barika.

A Ynet report quoted a young man from the Barika family as saying: “We call on the Hamas government to take responsibility for its actions. They told us to guard the deliveries and the aid, but today they shot at us and at members of my family.”

In early December, videos circulated on social media showing gunmen, reportedly Hamas operatives, stealing trucks delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip from Egypt. In the videos, masked and armed men can be seen sitting on top of the humanitarian supplies — usually food, water, medicine and fuel — as the trucks drive deeper into the Strip.

In October, the United Nations organization that works with Palestinian refugees and their descendants indicated that Hamas authorities in Gaza had stolen fuel and medical supplies meant for refugees, though the posts were later deleted.

Multiple videos have circulated on social media in recent weeks of Gazans discovering stockpiles of aid in UNRWA facilities, and expressing anger at the organization for not distributing desperately needed supplies to citizens.

A report released last Thursday by the UN and other agencies said that more than half a million people in Gaza — a quarter of the population — are starving due to “woefully insufficient” quantities of food entering the territory.

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