What will it take to free the hostages in Gaza? Many Israelis support a prisoner swap

Many Israelis are advocating for a prisoner swap with Hamas to secure the release of about 240 hostages, following a massacre led by Hamas in southern Israel.

Current predicament: The US is attempting to negotiate a pause in the Hamas-Israel war for the hostages’ release, with many Israelis pushing for a historic prisoner exchange.
* Hamas has already released four hostages, but calls for a grand prisoner exchange remain. Meanwhile, Israel insists there is currently no such deal on the table.
* Nearly two-thirds of Israelis surveyed in a recent poll support a prisoner exchange, with another poll showing divided opinions.

Past precedents: Israel has previously agreed to prisoner swaps with Hamas.
* Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a swap in 2011, releasing over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
* However, one of the released prisoners in that exchange is now the head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, intensifying opposition to another prisoner swap.

Public opinion: Families and friends of the Israeli hostages walk a fine line on supporting a prisoner swap.
* While some families are increasingly advocating for a prisoner exchange, others worry that it could set a dangerous precedent and lead to future attacks.
* The main advocacy group for friends and family of the hostages has not adopted an official position on the issue but continues to pressure the Israeli government.

What the deal could entail: A comprehensive prisoner swap could see Israel release all its Palestinian prisoners.
* Israel currently holds around 6,700 Palestinian inmates for security offenses, including about 560 serving life sentences.
* However, the key challenge remains balancing the hostages’ release with the goal of dismantling Hamas.
View original article on NPR
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