Israel was attempting to secure an additional day of hostage releases as an extension to the agreement in place for the past week and expected 10 women to be freed on Friday. Officials expect a night-long negotiation to take place that would bring about a total of 90 hostages having been freed from Hamas captivity.
The officials said they had zero tolerance for Hamas games and that if the list of names of the 10 women would not be received. The IDF will return to its offensive in Gaza. They also reject Hamas's claim it did not have all of the women in its hands, nor could it find and retrieve them. A senior Islamic Jihad official said he was not optimistic that the truce could be extended based on Israel's stated goals.
The Israeli officials were adamant not to change the terms of the deal and release elderly male hostages before all women were free. "We will not desert the women," a senior official said. "agreeing to move to the men means desertion of the women."
After all women are released, Israel would have to decide whether to continue the agreement. In meetings in Qatar earlier in the week, Mossad chief David Barnea discussed possible scenarios with CIA chief William Burns and others. It was clear to the participants that if more hostages were to be freed on Saturday, they would be the elderly men in their 80s.
Israel believes Hamas would insist on the release of Palestinian children for children, women for women and men for men, which would require Israel to free convicted murderers serving long sentences and would necessitate cabinet approval.
The war cabinet is expected to weigh the matter overnight, to decide whether or not to move to the next category of hostages, including young men and women, fathers, and IDF soldiers. Some among the officials believe that returning to the fighting in Gaza, would pressure Hamas further and expedite a new deal. "We are facing difficult days ahead," an official said. "But we have no patience for Hamas's tricks."
Assuming the 8th day of the agreement is achieved on Friday - a decision would have to be made. If there is an agreement to continue, Israel would refrain from resuming its offensive. Any extension of the pause in fighting beyond Saturday would require a cabinet vote.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attended the war cabinet on Thursday and met separately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, President Issac Herzog and opposition leader Yair Lapid. The U.S. understands Israel's need to continue its fighting but although an extended ceasefire would be preferable, they understand that the negotiated agreement to free hostages, is nearing its end in a matter of days.
A U.S. official who met with Israeli leaders and the war cabinet confirmed the American support for Israel's right to self-defense and urged Israel to take steps to minimize civilian casualties.