Mossad Chief David Barnea has reportedly proposed that Hamas top leaders in Gaza, the architects behind the gruesome Oct. 7 massacre of more than 1,200 Israelis, be offered safe passage out of the Strip as part of a broader ceasefire agreement, according to a CNN report.
According to CNN, it is unclear whether Barnea provided names of specific Hamas leaders in question, but the main architects behind Oct. 7 are Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, who are believed to be hiding in the Hamas tunnels under Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Deif’s deputy, Marwan Issa, is also among those believed to be hiding, as well as Sinwar's brother Mohammed, a senior Hamas commander.
CNN spoke to two officials familiar with the ongoing international discussions and reported that the proposal was raised by Barnea both in Warsaw in December, when he met with CIA Director Bill Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani, who has acted as an intermediary on behalf of the Hamas terror organization.
The proposal to permit Hamas leaders to leave Gaza in exchange for the hostages was also reportedly discussed when Blinken was in Doha earlier this month, however, according to the officials, al Thani told Blinken the proposal “would never work” because Hamas would not trust Israel to end the war in Gaza after the leadership departs.
A senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Aaron David Miller, said that Sinwar could perhaps be convinced to leave if Israel agreed to an “asymmetrical” trade that would release many-times-more Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in exchange for the 136 Israeli hostages, some of whom have already been killed
“I think he would only consider it in the event the Israelis also agreed to free all of the Palestinian prisoners,” Miller added.
“Whatever the Israelis agree to, Sinwar must know that they’re going to try to kill him,” he added. “Weeks, months years.”
Israel has offered a $400,000 reward for information about Sinwar's whereabouts and has dropped leaflets over Gaza offering rewards of hundreds of thousands of dollars for information on the locations of Hamas leaders.
Ofer Shelah, a senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, claims it won't make any difference whether Sinwar is killed or flees the Gaza Strip.
“The goal is bringing down Hamas as the ruler in the Gaza Strip,” Shelah said. “There is no difference if [Sinwar] dies, or if he leaves. If he dies, then somebody could take over much in the same way. If we bring all the hostages back and Sinwar leaves, definitely that would make most people in Israel feel that we’ve won the war.”
The news about the proposal of Hamas leaders exile comes as Axios reported that Israel had proposed a two-month ceasefire in Gaza in exchange for the release of the remaining approximately hostages.
According to Axios, the release of all remaining hostages would take place in several phases that could take up to two months. The first phase would include the release of women, men over the age of 60 years old and hostages who are in critical medical condition, according to two unnamed Israeli officials, who also said that the “proposal makes clear Israel will not agree to end the war and will not agree to release all 6,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons” in exchange for the hostages.
The United States, Egypt and Qatar have continued exert pressure on Israel and the Hamas terror group to accept a “phased” deal over the course of three months that would result in the release of the Israeli hostages in return for an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.