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Three-year-old Abigail Naftali, taken hostage by Hamas.

Israel-Hamas hostage deal goes into effect Thursday

Israel’s deal to secure the release of hostages from Hamas is getting praise.

Among those who may be released is American Abigail Edan. The 3-year-old was in her father’s arms when he was killed, according to her brothers who also witnessed their mother being murdered. The boys, ages 6 and 10 were able to run back into their home and lock themselves in a safe room until rescuers reached them 12 hours later.

Abigail ran to a neighbor’s home to seek shelter but that family was attacked. The mother, her three children and Abigail were then abducted.

The news of Abigail and 49 other hostages being released is good news for Israel which is still suffering national trauma over the attack. For Americans as well.  Arabs in Gaza will also benefit as until now, Hamas has refused to release hostages.

“Today’s deal is a testament to the tireless diplomacy and determination of many dedicated individuals across the United States government to bring Americans home,” U.S. President Joe Biden stated late Tuesday night in Washington.

“I welcome the deal to secure the release of hostages taken by the terrorist group Hamas during its brutal assault against Israel on Oct. 7,” Biden stated.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated, “The agreement reached today to release some hostages is a hopeful signal for some of the American and Israeli families whose lives have been shattered in the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack against Israel.”

But other pro-Israel allies said it sends the wrong message and that terrorists will continue to take hostages if it aids their negotiations.

“Until Hamas is eradicated, the Israeli people will never be safe,” wrote Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), some 20 minutes after Israel announced the deal. “We must destroy these violent terrorists.”

The agreement sets out a plan for Hamas to release 50 of the more than 235 hostages held in Gaza since since its invasion and murderous rampage on Oct. 7.  It is scheduled to go into effect on Thursday and includes a four day pause in fighting.

According to NBC News, of the Arabs to be released “123 are teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17, held on allegations from throwing rocks and contacting banned terrorist groups, to attempted stabbings and planning suicide attacks. There are 33 women, ages 18 to 59, accused of crimes such as nonfatal stabbings and recruiting and transferring money for terror groups. And 144 are 18-year-old males, who appeared to fall outside the original criteria put forward by Israel, meaning it was unclear when they would be released.

Under the deal, which was brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the U.S., Israel will free some 150 Arabs in prison on terrorism charges and will allow more humanitarian aid into the Hamas-controlled enclave.

In addition to Abigail, two other American hostages are part of the first phase of the deal, according to a senior administration official.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement moments after the war cabinet met. “Tonight, the Government has approved the outline of the first stage of achieving this goal, according to which at least 50 hostages – women and children – will be released over four days, during which a pause in the fighting will be held. The release of every additional ten hostages will result in one additional day in the pause.”

Israel’s government also committed to continuing the war against Hamas, which is labeled a terrorist organization by Europe, the US, Canada and other western nations. The war is being fought, said the statement, “in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas, and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza.”

The agreement also allows visits by the International Red Cross to check on the remaining hostages and provide medicine for them, Netanyahu said.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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