Gaza: what will the ceasefire and prisoner swap bring?

The ceasefire agreed between Israel and the radical Islamic Hamas group to allow an exchange of hostages and prisoners came into force on Friday morning. It is expected to last for at least four days and, according to mediator Qatar, could be extended to as many as ten. An initial 50 of the presumed 240 hostages held by Hamas are now to be released in exchange for Israel releasing 150 Palestinian prisoners.

La Repubblica (IT) /

A delicate and dangerous moment

La Repubblica comments:

“To lay down weapons after weeks of hatred and fighting requires monolithic organisation, but above all a great deal of cold-bloodedness. Amid the tensions that have built up in the house-to-house combat, a tiny detail would be enough to undo the work of diplomacy with a final salvo. ... A ceasefire that is suddenly imposed between two sides is always fragile and exposed to the mistakes, misunderstandings and provocations of those who want to fight the war to the bitter end. In the Gaza Strip, this includes Hamas as well as other groups, ranging from the even more extremist Islamic Jihad to human traffickers hoping to enrich themselves through the trade in hostages.”

Gianluca Di Feo
Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

A never-ending terrorist attack

Hamas will always try to exploit the situation, warns the Tages-Anzeiger:

“The hostage negotiations have fuelled hope on the one hand, but also revealed the absurdity of this war, which in reality is a never-ending terrorist attack. The unpredictability of Hamas is already documented by the fact that it has held babies and old people in captivity for six weeks. Even the ceasefire which is being negotiated in exchange for hostage lives is not being linked by Hamas to promises of humanitarian aid for the Palestinian population. It will use the time to regroup and reorganise.”

Stefan Kornelius
El País (ES) /

This ceasefire must be permanent

An immediate end must be put to the dying, El País demands:

“The situation is so dramatic that even the smallest step forward is big news. ... Every day of peace is a day won against the war, and this ceasefire must become indefinite. Israel and Hamas have been negotiating for weeks, so dialogue is not impossible. All the Israeli hostages have the right to return home, and the people in the Gaza Strip have the right to stop dying. ... The threat must not continue for even a minute more. ... The damage already done is so great that it will take years for them to rebuild their lives. This ceasefire must be permanent.”

Die Presse (AT) /

The Americans are back

The hostage deal is due to the diplomatic influence of the US, Die Presse stresses:

“Now the Americans are back with full force in the Middle East as a potent player — in their dual role as Israel’s protecting power and as mediator, as exemplified by Henry Kissinger. And as important as ever, because no one else has the diplomatic power — not the EU and certainly not China or Russia with their hollow double standards. The fact that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will soon be travelling to the region for the third time since the start of the war is a sign that the US is committed to allowing a constructive post-war solution to emerge from the graves and ruins.”

Thomas Vieregge
Politiken (DK) /

Things cannot go on like this

The ceasefire in Gaza must be extended and a Western-Arab peace plan developed, Politiken demands:

“Neither Israelis nor Palestinians nor the world around them can afford to accept recurring wars as a ‘normal state of affairs’. Four days is not nearly enough to break the logic of violence. But with most of the hostages waiting for their release and two nations longing for peace, responsible governments in the West and in the Arab world should call for an extension of the ceasefire and immediately launch a massive and binding action to separate the two sides. First in Gaza. But with the aim of paving the way for two states at peace.”