Ben Shapiro's X Post that encapsulated the Hamas ceasefire acceptance perfectly

In an astonishing development, The New York Times has revealed that Hamas, far from agreeing to a pre-established ceasefire deal, audaciously made its own counterproposal that brazenly included a ceasefire-prisoner swap. Then, in a theatrical display of deception, Hamas accepted its concocted offer, deliberately making it appear as if Israel was the obstacle to peace.

Despite the rejection of this ploy, the U.S. saw a glimmer of hope in Hamas's readiness to discuss terms without demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities as a precondition—suggesting a potential softening in Hamas's previous stance.

Israel’s targeted operations in Rafah, as reported by the Times, were precise retaliations for lethal Hamas rocket attacks that resulted in the deaths of four Israeli soldiers. This action was aimed squarely at applying pressure on Hamas, not as the all-out offensive that U.S. President Joe Biden had cautioned against. Notably, the strikes occurred in a strategically chosen, sparsely populated former airport area adjacent to the Rafah crossing with Egypt, debunking any claims of indiscriminate military aggression. The Israeli military took over the Rafah crossing in this operation, killing some 20 militants in the process. This would effectively mean that Israeli forces will be in a position to ensure Hamas militants do not hijack humanitarian aid that is coming into the Strip.

The proposed ceasefire Israel had agreed to 10 days ago and was waiting on a response from Hamas, would halt Israeli strikes for an unprecedented 42 days while the Jewish State would also release of hundreds of convicted terrorists, while Hamas would ostensibly release 33 individuals, including women, the elderly, and children. However, Hamas's murky change of terms could permit the shameful act of releasing the deceased instead of the living, essentially trading lives for bodies, with the true fate of surviving hostages left in limbo. This deceit was underscored by their previous failure to honor a deal made last November to release all female, child and elderly civilian captives.

Amidst these tensions, President Biden has been vocal in his opposition to a ground invasion of Rafah, a sentiment echoed by Mara Rudman, a former Middle East envoy under President Barack Obama who is now with the University of Virginia. Ms. Rudman told the New York Times that the Biden administration wanted to emphasize the dual strategy of extracting hostages and channeling more aid into Gaza by exerting pressure on Hamas. Israel has been patient with Hamas and tempered their offensive at the behest of America, however given that there has not been any concessions or movement towards ending the conflict by Hamas, Israel is now exterting the kind of pressure it believes Hamas will listen to. It was no coincidence that Hamas created this ruse just as Israeli forces were knocking on Rafah's door. The area Israel cleared out is of strategic importance to Hamas as it is the gateway to Egypt and the entranceway for hundreds of trucks filed with supplies which the terror group had been stealing and selling in Gaza marketplaces.

Egypt, while preventing Palestinians from crossing the border to a safe zone on the other side, has allowed ambulances and other emergency vehicles across to access its hospitals. Some analysts have speculated that militant leaders, and perhaps hostages have been smuggled out using this route. By securing the Rafah crossing, Israel effectively controls who leaves, and will have the ability to inspect vehicles as they leave. This theory does not rule out the possibility that Hamas has tunnels traversing the border, despite Egypt's claims to have dismantled them all. However, the last minute ploy by Hamas appeared to confirm that the Rafah crossing was of utmost importance to them.

Israel, originally demanding the return of 40 living hostages, compromised by reducing the number to 33 after verifying the unfortunate reality that not all initially believed to be alive had survived. In what seems to be a strategic move, Israel incorporated elements of Hamas's earlier proposals into their own to expose their insincerity. Hamas, in this new, unapproved offer lowered the number of live hostages to "around" 18, with the rest of the 33 being the bodies of hostages who had either succumbed to injuries sustained on October 7th, were killed in Gaza by their captors or who were dead from the initial Hamas assault and their bodies taken into Gaza to hold for ransom.

This ceasefire period was intended as a prelude to further discussions leading to another six-week truce and more extensive prisoner exchanges. Despite the critical nature of these talks, Israel delayed sending a delegation to Cairo, asserting that it had already communicated its position clearly, though it plans to engage later in the week to address the counteroffer. Last week, Israel gave Hamas a seven day warning to either accept a deal or face a Rafah invasion.

Hamas's launch of an attack from the Emirati Hospital in Rafah that killed four soldiers and injured dozens more at the Kerem Shalom crossing sparked Israel on Monday to begin Rafah evacuations. After it was apparent that Israel was about to engage in the vacated area, Hamas spokespeople reached out to media outlets and claimed they accepted the offer. After it was clear that Hamas had changed the agreed upon terms, Israel launched their operation, but not before media outlets like Al Jazeera and the BBC had been announcing that Hamas accepted the terms, without revealing the changes the terror group made to the offer negotiated in Egypt ten days before.

Intriguingly, minor but potentially significant modifications to the terms of the agreement were made by Arab intermediaries and William J. Burns, Director of the CIA, focusing on the establishment of a "sustainable calm." However, despite Hamas's portrayal of the revision as significant, this declaration was seen as merely cosmetic by some U.S. officials, who maintained that it was not clear if Hamas actually accepted the term sustainable calm instead of an all out end to the war. The key objection to the deal remained the changing of live hostages to deceased ones.

This ongoing narrative not only highlights the complexities of negotiation but also underscores the persistent challenges in achieving a lasting peace, with each party's strategic posturing influencing the delicate balance of regional stability. It also shines a light on the deceptive public relations practices of Hamas, who at the 11th hour tried to pass off a deal that no one had agreed to, and the Israeli public would surely not agree to given the fact that it would have meant releasing hundreds of hardened murderers and terrorists with blood on their hands for the remains of just a few Israeli citizens without any guarantee that the remaining live hostages would be released.

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