Nate Watson: The hypocrisy of withholding a ceasefire to free the hostages

Destroyed buildings stand in the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, Thursday, March 28, 2024.

Destroyed buildings stand in the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, Thursday, March 28, 2024. AP PHOTO/LEO CORREA

Published: 03-31-2024 12:30 PM

From the Israeli civilians blocking aid trucks at Gaza’s border to the opposition comments at our city council meetings, those opposing a cease-fire have echoed a similar refrain: release the hostages, then you’ll get your cease-fire. Implicit in their directive is a valuation: the holding of Israeli hostages justifies the killing of Palestinians civilians. But would the cease-fire opponents still uphold this valuation with the nationalities reversed? Prior to October 7th, Israel detained over 1,000 Palestinians without charge or trial, exchanging 150 of them during the temporary cease-fire. By definition, they are hostages. Yet I am doubtful that any cease-fire opponents found the killing of Israeli civilians on October 7th justified by their imprisonment.

Furthermore, opponents ignore the fact that every proposed cease-fire has explicitly guaranteed the Israeli hostages’ release. Despite the largest hostage recovery coming from the 6-day cease-fire in November, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly rejects these opportunities to bring them all home. Meanwhile, Israel’s military has killed more hostages than it has rescued. After five months of carpet bombing, weaponizing starvation, and a conference detailing plans to settle Gaza, are we still meant to believe that they are a priority to their own government?

Supporting the hostages’ release while opposing a cease-fire lacks not only logical, but moral consistency. Nationalist in essence, it values one group of civilian lives over another. And even to those still standing proudly in their own corner, concerned only for the hostages’ lives, a cease-fire is the most assured way of saving them.

Nate Watson


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