Why the ceasefire (still) benefits both sides

If the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is not renewed today, the war in the Gaza Strip will continue tomorrow. However, intensive diplomatic efforts are underway: according to the well-known Israeli investigative journalist Barak Ravid, CIA Director William Burns met yesterday with the Mossad director, the Egyptian intelligence chief and the Prime Minister of Qatar to discuss a continuation of the deal. The ceasefire could therefore be extended by up to three days. To this end, ten more hostages would be released from Gaza every day – and in return, around 30 Palestinians would be released from Israeli prisons.

Hamas is said to be holding around 30 to 40 women and children in captivity in Gaza, including 7-month-old baby Kfir. In total, 1200,240 people were killed and more than <> hostages were kidnapped on October <>. Only when all women and children are free does Israel want to talk about further agreements that could also free men and soldiers – presumably at a higher price. The question has not yet been conclusively clarified: Was the hostage deal a consequence of the Israeli fighting in Gaza because it increased the pressure on Hamas – or was a hostage deal possibly even offered by Hamas from the beginning?

In any case, the longer the ceasefire lasts, the more difficult it will be to resume the fighting against Hamas in full force. It is already clear that the U.S. government expects Israel to provide significantly better protection for civilians in Gaza in the future.

However, the ceasefire is still holding – and it is currently benefiting both Israel and Hamas: In Israel, the relatives can hold the freed hostages in their arms. Hamas, on the other hand, can reorganize itself militarily in Gaza and increase its popularity in the occupied West Bank by releasing Palestinian prisoners on a daily basis. Israel's government is in a dilemma: while hostage rescues are popular, it wants to resume fighting as soon as possible. Far-right Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir is already threatening to leave the government if he fails to do so.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to visit several of the kibbutzim attacked by Hamas today – according to Haaretz, the survivors of Kibbutz Beeri have refused to visit. It is one of the hardest hit, but its inhabitants traditionally belong to the Israeli left.

  • War in the Middle East: How Hamas is playing with the nerves of Israelis

More news and background information on the Israel-Gaza war can be found here:

  • Hamas hands over more hostages – including a German free: They were held captive by terrorists in the Gaza Strip for almost eight weeks, and now they are free: Twelve Hamas hostages have arrived in Israel – according to Foreign Minister Baerbock, one German is among them.

Steinmeier visits friends

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is today visiting Qatar, the most important diplomatic player in this war. This Gulf country is a U.S. ally, a NATO ally, but it is also home to Hamas' political leaders – and it brokered the current ceasefire and hostage deal.

Qatar was quite indignant when, after October 7, the sheikhs were also accused of "supporting terrorism" by Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. They recalled that in 2011 the United States had asked them to include the Hamas leadership in order to open a channel of communication with the terrorist group. And that money from Doha only flows towards Gaza in coordination with the US and Israel. Qatar is a major player in a highly complicated part of the world.

Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has recently given several interviews in which he clearly condemned the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7 as a "horrific attack." However, he told the Financial Times, the West is also expected to condemn the killing of Palestinian civilians. The continuation of this war will not destroy Hamas, but will promote extremism and radicalization. Certainly, there is a lot for the Federal President to discuss. What is Steinmeier talking to the Emir? Ideally, it should also be about longer-term perspectives in this conflict and about the mediating role that Qatar can play in it.

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Is the next banger coming from the Federal Constitutional Court?

If the federal government were to be worried about today's decision by the Federal Constitutional Court, that would be understandable – after all, the highest court has just shaken the traffic light coalition and Chancellor Olaf Scholz with a decision on the federal budget. So much so that Scholz could not even really say in his government statement yesterday how his government now wants to continue.

Today's decision could also have serious consequences, because the constitutionality of the Bundestag election law is at stake. Is the electoral reform, which was passed by the Grand Coalition in 2020 and in which a reduction in the size of the Bundestag, which has grown to more than 700 members, constitutional? In the meantime, the traffic light has already passed a new law. But the decision is about something fundamental, namely the question of how comprehensible such laws actually have to be formulated in the first place. Because even for lawyers, they are sometimes difficult to understand. In the worst-case scenario, according to the specialist portal "Legal Tribune Online", "in extreme cases – especially with regard to the requirement of comprehensibility – large parts of the existing federal and state electoral law could be unconstitutional". This, I think, can only be welcomed by anyone who is not only a lawyer!

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Read the current SPIEGEL editorial here

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Click here for the current daily quiz

Today's starting question: Who was Michael Kretschmer's direct predecessor as Prime Minister of Saxony?

Winner of the day...

... is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which currently drives Israeli hostages out of the Gaza Strip every day, in white cars with a logo prominently attached to them – a red cross on a white background. As a result, the ICRC is currently more visible than it has ever been. It exercises its unique role in the world: that of a neutral mediator between warring parties and as a guardian of the Geneva Conventions and as a monitoring body of international humanitarian law. Normally, the ICRC delegates can be found behind the scenes: they mediate between warring parties, they make it possible to feed the wounded. In the current hostage deal, they are the ones who receive the hostages from Hamas in Gaza and drive them across the border to Egypt or Israel, where they can then be handed over to the Israeli military. The negotiations are also currently discussing whether Hamas will allow the ICRC to visit and care for the hostages still held in Gaza. But there seems to be no agreement on this yet, and the ICRC cannot gain access on its own. During the Israeli bombings of Gaza, the ICRC, in its role as a protective body of international humanitarian law, pointed out very clearly by its standards the need to protect civilians – without naming either side. In the polarized world of social media, the work of the ICRC has become more difficult, because in a world of activists and right-wingers, a neutral body seems difficult to imagine. And yet his work is more important than ever, more necessary than ever.

The latest news from the night

  • Putin sees Russia as a "great power" on the world stage again: In a kind of campaign speech, Vladimir Putin has highlighted his war against Ukraine as a success. In addition, Russia's president attacked the West.

  • Buffet companion Charlie Munger is dead: Charlie Munger was for a long time the closest confidant of major investor Warren Buffett. Now he has died at the age of 99.

  • Europe's wildest roller coaster: Both teams played for victory – in the end, Borussia Dortmund celebrated as Milan's defence fell apart when Malick Thiaw was injured. Jamie Byno-Gittens convinced, Mats Hummels was self-critical after top performance.

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I wish you a good start to the day.

Yours sincerely, Mathieu von Rohr, Head of SPIEGEL's International Department