Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar has been out of contact with the terrorist group’s leadership abroad for more than 10 days, Israeli sources told Ynet on Thursday.
This suggests that Sinwar might not have been involved in the proposal the organization submitted through intermediaries on Tuesday regarding a deal for the release of hostages.
Senior Israeli officials describe Sinwar as having been "running from cave to cave like a rat" in recent days. "He is terrified and constantly on the move. The only thing that could lead to a deal is his genuine fear of being eliminated any moment, and only a deal could save him," they said.
"If there is any chance for a deal it would come from military pressure, with the IDF breathing down Sinwar's neck. He has no other reason. He doesn't need fuel, medicine or food. He knows he and his leadership could be eliminated any minute."
In its response submitted on Tuesday to intermediaries, Hamas proposed a three-phase deal with Israel, each lasting 45 days, which includes, among other demands, an IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, alongside the release of 1,500 Palestinian inmates from Israeli prisons, including 500 serving life sentences. The organization insists on selecting these 500 prisoners themselves. The security cabinet convened Thursday evening in Tel Aviv to discuss the response provided.
According to the document, during the first 45-day phase, all Israeli women hostages, males under 19 and the elderly and sick would be released, in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails. Israel would also withdraw its troops from populated areas during the first phase.
The second phase would include the release of remaining male hostages and "the withdrawal of Israeli forces outside the borders of all areas of the Gaza Strip."
Bodies and remains would be exchanged during the third phase. The truce would also increase the flow of food and other aid to Gaza's desperate civilians, who are facing hunger and dire shortages of basic supplies.