Recent statements from John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, on December 19, indicated that a new prisoner exchange deal with Hamas is not currently on the horizon.
This comes in the wake of a tripartite meeting in Warsaw involving CIA head William Burns, Mossad chief David Barnea, and Qatari Prime Minister Muhammad bin Abd al-Rahman bin Jassim Al Thani.
Despite positive claims from political officials in Jerusalem, significant progress toward the release of additional Israeli hostages seems elusive.
Hamas sources suggest that Israel has already agreed to release security prisoners, including those with “blood on their hands,” and long-term incarcerated senior Hamas officials.
However, Hamas emphasizes that any new agreement will differ significantly from previous ones, insisting on a complete cessation of hostilities and IDF withdrawal from Gaza.
Yahya Sinwar’s bold approach seems to stem from his assessment that Israeli political leadership is under intense pressure to secure the release of abductees.
He appears determined to exploit this situation to the fullest.
CIA head William Burns, however, believes there is still potential to pressure Hamas through diplomatic channels involving Qatar and Egypt.
In the midst of these negotiations, a Hamas delegation led by Ismail Haniyeh visited Cairo on December 20, discussing a potential deal and considering regional consequences.
Despite Israel proposing a new agreement involving adult and female soldiers in exchange for security prisoners, Hamas remains adamant that it will determine the lists of released Israeli and Palestinian prisoners, encompassing all Palestinian factions.
As Yahya Sinwar tightens his grip, Israel faces a challenging scenario.
With Sinwar claiming control and predicting Hamas’s survival, Israel perceives a need to increase military pressure on the area where the Hamas military leadership is believed to be hiding, particularly in the tunnels of the Khan Yunis area.
Senior security sources suggest reinforcing the region with additional forces to intensify the military pressure on Hamas.
In the face of Sinwar’s uncompromising stance, Israel finds itself at a crossroads.
The IDF is poised to augment its presence, focusing on locating and neutralizing the top military wing of Hamas.
The green light from the American administration for the ongoing military operation underscores Israel’s opportunity to act decisively and potentially shorten the duration of the conflict.