Avi Maoz
Avi MaozArutz Sheva-Israel National News

Avi Maoz, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, responded to the deal for the release of the hostages that will be submitted tonight for government approval.

"If this is a deal as published in the media, then we are going to be stopping the entire momentum of the war, putting our soldiers at excessive risk and seriously losing our deterrent power in the region. We went to war with the certainty that the way to return our hostages is to occupy the Gaza Strip and eliminate Hamas," he said.

"I firmly oppose surrendering to terror and international pressure and call on the government to return the army to full combat operation until the mission is completed: full control of the Gaza Strip, the elimination of Hamas and the return of all our hostages.

If the government indeed approves this unfortunate agreement, I demand the minimum from the Prime Minister: an immediate and public commitment not to stop the photography flights to preserve the safety of our soldiers and to return immediately in five days to full and aggressive combat in order to complete the mission: the occupation of the Gaza Strip, the elimination of Hamas, the return of our hostages and the removal of the threat from the communities in the south and north. It is inconceivable that after the terrible shock we experienced on Simchat Torah we will continue to act according to the old concept, like Gantz and Eizenkot are trying to dictate to us."

According to the apparent outline of the deal, Hamas is expected to release 50 hostages in the first phase - children, mothers and elderly women - in exchange for four days of respite. If Hamas locates and releases more hostages, it will be able to receive additional days of respite.

It was also stated in the summary that Israel is expected to refrain from aerial activity in the Gaza Strip for six hours each day during the first days of the ceasefire, when Hamas will try to locate the rest of the hostages.

Israel estimates that 80 children, mothers and elderly are in the hands of Hamas. If all are released, a total of 240 prisoners will be released and eight days of respite will be given. It is not clear if young women, kidnapped in Gaza, will be included in the deal.

At this stage it appears that the ministers of the Likud, the National Camp and the haredi parties will support the deal - so it is expected to have a majority in the government and the expanded cabinet. However, members of Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit expressed reservations.