Hopes for a ceasefire in Gaza are increasing with the arrival of a Hamas delegation to Cairo Israel-Gaza war

Hopes for a ceasefire in Gaza rose on Saturday as a Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo to continue indirect talks, in what is believed to be a response to a new proposal, reportedly approved by Israel, to stop fighting for an initial 40 days and exchange hostages. For Palestinian prisoners.

Egyptian and American mediators have reported signs of a settlement in recent days, and Egypt’s official Cairo News Channel said on Saturday that consensus had been reached in indirect talks on several disputed points, but did not provide further details.

However, many analysts remain pessimistic after five months of stalled talks that repeatedly collapsed. Negotiators have continually struggled to reconcile Hamas’s demand for a permanent ceasefire that would allow the organization to claim victory with the clear determination of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to force Hamas from power, kill or capture its leadership and destroy all of its military forces. Capabilities.

A senior Israeli official, who spoke on Saturday on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing negotiations, downplayed the prospects for a complete end to the war. The official said that Israel is committed to the attack on the city of Rafah, located in the far south of the Gaza Strip, and that it will not agree under any circumstances to end the war as part of the hostage release deal.

Egyptian sources told the Wall Street Journal that Israel will give the truce talks another week, after which it will launch its long-threatened attack.

The United States has sought to pressure Hamas to accept the latest proposals, which are widely seen as a last chance to avoid intense new fighting. Any Israeli attack on Rafah would likely result in numerous civilian casualties and exacerbate the severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

See also  Iranian protesters burn police stations as unrest spreads over woman's death

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said on Friday, “The only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas.”

Blinken also reiterated Washington’s objections to the Rafah attack, saying Israel had not presented a credible plan to protect the 1.2 million or more civilians displaced from elsewhere in Gaza who have taken refuge in sprawling refugee camps and UN shelters there.

He said: “In the absence of such a plan, we cannot support a major military operation in Rafah because the damage it will cause exceeds what is acceptable.”

Humanitarian groups and the United Nations have also repeatedly called on Israel to stop the attack on Rafah.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, warned on Friday that a large-scale military operation in Rafah “could lead to a bloodbath and further weaken the already collapsed health system.”

Israeli officials say that the ground attack on Rafah is necessary to achieve Israel’s declared war goals because thousands of Hamas fighters and leaders of the extremist Islamic organization are stationed there.

Hamas took about 250 hostages during the surprise attack on southern Israel in October last year, which led to the outbreak of war. About half of them remain detained in Gaza, and many are believed to be in or below Rafah.

About 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas attack in October, most of them civilians. More than 34,600 people were killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, in the ensuing Israeli military offensive. Israel says Hamas uses civilians as human shields, something the movement denies.

Early Saturday Israeli raids on Gaza killed at least six people. Three bodies were recovered from under the rubble of a building in Rafah, and were transferred to Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital. A raid on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza also killed three people, according to hospital officials.

See also  Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: history, control and major developments since the beginning of the war

The Gaza Ministry of Health said on Saturday that in the past 24 hours, the bodies of 32 people killed in Israeli raids had been transferred to local hospitals. The Ministry does not differentiate between combatants and civilians in its statistics.

Hamas, which has held power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, says it is studying the latest truce proposal “in a positive spirit.”

But the group is deeply divided, and statements made by its political wing, now mainly based in Istanbul, often do not reflect the views of Yahya Sinwar, the organizer of the October attacks and the most prominent Hamas leader in Gaza.

Observers say it is important that the Hamas delegation now in Cairo is headed by Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of the movement’s political arm in Gaza, and not a higher-up figure who may lack credibility with Sinwar, who has absolute power over anything. an agreement.

The Israeli government is also deeply divided. Senior members of the war cabinet are keen to ensure a ceasefire and the release of surviving prisoners, but far-right ministers have threatened to bring down Netanyahu’s ruling coalition if the war does not continue with greater force.

The United States, along with Egypt and Qatar, is trying to reach a ceasefire agreement in the war that has been ongoing for nearly seven months.

During the last truce, which lasted for a week in November, 80 Israeli hostages were exchanged for 240 Palestinian prisoners. It is now believed that up to a third of those remaining in Hamas captivity are dead.

See also  Funeral of Pope Benedict XVI: Pope Francis leads the Vatican ceremony for the former pope

The Israeli blockade has pushed many of Gaza’s 2.4 million residents to the brink of starvation.

US pressure has prompted Israel to facilitate the delivery of more aid to Gaza, including through the reopened Erez crossing that leads directly to the hard-hit north.

Last week, Israeli settlers intercepted a convoy using a new road from Jordan before crossing into Gaza. Once inside the area, the convoy was seized by Hamas fighters, before it was recovered by UN officials.

Food availability has improved “slightly,” according to the UN and Rafah residents interviewed by The Guardian, with prices of some basics falling to near pre-war levels in southern areas where most aid is available.

US-based charity Global Central Kitchen resumed operations this week, after suspending them in the wake of Israeli drone strikes that killed seven of its staff while unloading aid in Gaza on April 1.

Global Central Kitchen participated in an effort earlier this year to establish a new sea aid corridor to Gaza from Cyprus to help compensate for diminishing land shipments from Israel.

The project suffered another setback on Friday when the US military announced that high winds had forced forces working to establish a temporary aid dock off the coast of Gaza to move to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

But the head of the UN Food Program still warned of “full-scale famine” in northern Gaza despite slight improvements, and repeated calls for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas.

“There is famine, total famine, in the north and it is moving south,” said Cindy McCain, executive director of the World Food Programme.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *