The only deal Hamas will consider is the defeat of the Jewish state

Demonstrators protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the current Israeli government, in Tel Aviv, on April 6, 2024. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90

by Ruthie Blum

(JNS) — In a monologue on April 5 during Israeli Channel 12’s current-affairs program “Ofira and Levinson,” the mother of one of the remaining 133 hostages in Gaza called on Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.

“Mr. Prime Minister, you are running out of time,” said Einav Zangauker, whose 24-year-old son was abducted on Oct. 7 by Hamas terrorists. “You’re not returning Matan; you’re not accepting the hostage-release deal that’s on the table. Go home.”

She went on: “I’ll find someone responsible enough to bring [him] and the other hostages back to their families… I’ve run out of patience, and invite you to step aside. You’re just sitting around wasting time and that’s a pity.”

Zangauker has been expressing this sentiment with increasing frequency. And it’s hard not to shudder sympathetically at what she and the rest of the devastated families have been going through for the past six months.

But where do they get the idea that there’s a “deal on the table” being prevented by Netanyahu? And what do they imagine would happen if he were to “step aside”?

Do they actually believe that a different leader or government in Jerusalem would spur Hamas to soften its stance? Can’t they see that every crack in Israel’s societal armor serves to stiffen the terrorists’ intransigence?

A review of recent history is in order here.

Israel, headed by Netanyahu, agreed in November to a pause in the war and the release from Israeli jails of three Palestinian terrorists per hostage held in Gaza. The exchange, brokered by Qatar and Egypt, took place over the course of a week. It would have continued if Hamas hadn’t violated the deal by refusing to provide a list of the remaining women and children in captivity and blitzing Israel with renewed rocket barrages.

In response, the Israel Defense Forces resumed fighting on Dec. 1. Less than three weeks later, Netanyahu offered another weeklong pause in the fighting and additional humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, in exchange for 40 hostages, including all the women, children and elderly men in urgent need of medical treatment.

Hamas rejected the offer. It also rejected Israel’s (a.k.a. Netanyahu’s) proposal in late January for a two-month pause in the fighting, a release of a significant number of Palestinian terrorists and the relocation of Yahya Sinwar and other Hamas leaders, in exchange for the rest of the hostages.

Then came February, when U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters that a “ceasefire” agreement was days away. But Hamas wasn’t having it.

Toward the end of March, Netanyahu agreed to pause IDF operations for six weeks and to release some 700 Palestinian prisoners, many with blood on their hands, in exchange for 40 hostages. Hamas nixed that, too — a day after the United States enabled the passage of anti-Israel U.N. Security Council Resolution 2728.

Which brings us to April. After an Israeli delegation visited Cairo on April 2, in yet another effort to reach a hostage-release deal, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh reiterated his delusional conditions.

“We are committed to our demands: the permanent ceasefire, comprehensive and complete withdrawal of the enemy out of the Gaza Strip, the return of all displaced people to their homes, allowing all aid needed for our people in Gaza, rebuilding the Strip, lifting the blockade and achieving an honorable prisoner-exchange deal,” he said on April 3, during a televised speech marking the annual anti-Israel hate-fest of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day.

Today, April 7, Netanyahu has consented to an additional round of talks in Egypt. Since the only deal acceptable to Hamas is the defeat of the Jewish state, good luck with that.

Einav Zangauker has good reason to be panicked about the fate of her son. The same goes for the loved ones of each and every captive in the clutches of Hamas and Islamic Jihad rapist murderers.

Nor is there a soul in the country who is indifferent to their suffering. Netanyahu is no exception.

He is, however, tasked with a mission that requires nerves of steel: combating the forces of evil while attempting to compromise with them. Most of the families are keenly aware that nationwide fear for the welfare of the hostages has made combat all the more complex for the IDF and political echelon alike.

It’s imperative for Israelis to help the latter do their jobs — for the sake of the hostages and the future of the state — without the kind of interference that’s keeping Sinwar alive and kicking.

Ruthie Blum, an author and award-winning columnist, is a former adviser at the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.