photographs of the hostages
photographs of the hostagesMiriam Alster/Flash90

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed during the ongoing Cabinet meeting on the deal to free 50 of the hostages held by the Hamas terrorist organization that the terms of the deal allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the hostages who are not released and to provide them with medical assistance.

This would be the first time the Red Cross has visited Israeli hostages held by the Hamas terrorist organization. The organization never visited IDF soldier Gilad Shalit during the five years he was held captive by Hamas, nor has it visited Israeli civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who have been held by Hamas in Gaza since 2014 and 2015, respectively.

The Red Cross has been criticized within Israel for its failure to pressure Hamas to abide by international law and to allow the organization to visit its captives. Instead, the Red Cross has largely condemned Israel for its responses to Hamas' attacks.

Under the terms of the deal currently under discussion, Hamas would free 50 hostages, all women and children, in exchange for the freeing of 150 terrorists from Israeli prisons and a pause of four days of Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu promised the Cabinet ministers that the operation to eliminate Hamas in Gaza will continue after the ceasefire expires.

“We are at war, and the war will continue until all our goals are achieved,” Netanyahu stated, calling the return of the hostages a "sacred priority."

“Before us is a difficult decision but the right one," he said. “We will not rest until everyone is returned. The war has stages and the return of the hostages will have stages."

Hamas kidnapped about 240 people from southern Israel during the October 7 massacre in which over 1,200 people were murdered. The youngest hostage was just nine months old when he was kidnapped and is now ten months old. A pregnant woman who was kidnapped gave birth in Hamas captivity. The terrorist organization has executed several hostages already.

The Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit parties have announced that they will vote against the hostage deal, while the haredi Shas and United Torah Judaism parties were instructed by their rabbinical leadership to support the deal. It is likely that the deal will receive enough support within the Cabinet to be passed even without the religious Zionist parties.