Israel’s Deal: Prisoners for Hostages

It helps Israel achieve its goal of bringing back hostages but may give Hamas an opportunity to regroup.

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: After six weeks of the war, Israel and Hamas made a deal to cease fighting for four days starting on Thursday morning. Under the deal, which was brokered by Qatar, the U.S., and Egypt, Hamas will release 50 hostages it took on October 7 and Israel will release 150 Palestinian prisoners.

The details: Although the Palestinian prisoners being released are exclusively women and minors, it is crucial to note that 17 of the 150 were convicted of attempted murder. Others were convicted for throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, among other violent offenses. They were traded for innocent kidnapped women and children.

  • Context: In 2011, Israel released over 1,000 prisoners — including hundreds of Hamas terrorists serving sentences for murder — in exchange for one Israeli soldier being held hostage. It showed how far Israel would go to bring even one of its citizens home, possibly incentivizing further hostage-taking.

  • More: Also, under the deal, for each additional 10 hostages that Hamas releases, the pause in hostilities will prolong for one additional day.

Not the end: This deal does not mean the war's end. Once the ceasefire expires, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We will continue the war until we achieve all our objectives: Eliminate Hamas, return all our abductees and missing persons, and ensure that there will be no element in Gaza that threatens Israel.”