Friday Freedom: Israel Says No Hostage Release Before Then
Israel has recently declared that the release of the two Israeli hostages held by Hamas will not take place before Friday. This declaration has been met with criticism and caution by the Israeli public. The government has made no attempts to negotiate with Hamas or any other mediators to secure the release of the hostages, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both described as mentally unstable. The two Israelis were taken over a year ago while crossing the border fence into Gaza. Despite the lack of progress towards the release of the hostages, the government still stands firm on their decision to not conduct the release on Friday. Government spokesperson Mark Regev has made it clear that the government understands the pain this action causes and that it “regrets the necessity” of doing so. Regev and other government sources have told the Israeli press that the decision to wait is an attempt to further pressure Hamas to return the hostages to their families in exchange for a prisoner swap. However, as the situation has remained in a stalemate for the past year, it’s uncertain as to how successful this tactic will be. In the meantime, the Israeli public must continue to suffer from the knowledge that no progress has been made in securing the safe return of their loved ones. This comes as an agonizing reminder that until Hamas and the government reach an agreement, both Mengistu and Al-Sayed will remain prisoners and their families without closure.