Return of Israelis held in Gaza would unite a divided nation

Opinion: A prisoner swap deal would be advantageous for Hamas which is currently attempting to rebuild the Gaza Strip after the devastating effects of war while giving Israelis something to rally around at a time of societal rift and mistrust

Lior Lotan|
It remains to be seen whether the ongoing negotiations to find a compromise on judicial reform legislation will result in a substantial and lasting change for Israeli society, or whether the current crisis will persist.
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However, over the past few months, a Pandora's box has been opened and it has had negative effects on Israelis. Even if a broad agreement is reached, it may not be able to fully contain the negative effects that have been unleashed.
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מימין: אברה מנגיסטו, הישאם א-סייד, אורון שאול והדר גולדין
מימין: אברה מנגיסטו, הישאם א-סייד, אורון שאול והדר גולדין
Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul who were killed in the 2014 Gaza War, and Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu
(Photo: Courtesy)
Israel needs a uniting event that will rally the public, be accepted by all, and heal the wounded Israeli society.
There is a rare alignment of regional interests and a unique timing, which allows significant importance and meaning to be placed on a single matter - the return of IDF soldiers and civilians held captive by Hamas. This includes Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed in the 2014 Gaza War, and Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are believed to be held captive by the Gaza-based terror group.
An analysis of the interests of all the parties involved suggests that currently, everyone has an interest in seeing this resolved.
Key stakeholders, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt, and the United States, attended recent conferences in Aqaba and Sharm el Sheikh. It is expected that these parties will support any measures that can help stabilize the volatile situation in the West Bank and Gaza. This could also free up resources for the reconstruction of Gaza.
Additionally, other countries with ties to Hamas, such as Qatar, may also support these measures if they believe it would help achieve stability in the region.
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ציון 35 שנים להקמת ארגון הטרור חמאס בעזה
ציון 35 שנים להקמת ארגון הטרור חמאס בעזה
Hamas Gaza Strip leader Yahya Sinwar
(Photo: AFP)
The Hamas regime is currently prioritizing the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and has limited military options available for use against Israel. Despite their attempts to inflame terrorist activities in the West Bank to provoke Israel into responding, these efforts have been unsuccessful due to unprecedented efforts by the Israeli security forces. As a result, major outbreaks of violence have been prevented, even within Israel itself.
Given these limitations, Hamas has an interest in achieving a victory that is not affected by these constraints. For this reason, an agreement for a prisoner exchange with Israel would grant the terror group the desired goal.
For Israel, the return of the captives after more than eight years of frustration and embarrassment would provide something that all Israelis could unite around and bring hope back to a fractured society.
To address the issue of abductees, Israel must take a proactive and comprehensive approach, which includes a combination of intelligence gathering, targeted operations, and negotiations. This approach should be led by a dedicated and capable security organization, with the support and backing of the Israeli government, and should focus on achieving quick and appropriate results that serve Israeli interests.

Colonel (res.) Lior Lotan served as the coordinator of prisoners and missing persons under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was responsible for the field of prisoners and missing persons in the IDF
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