– by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Dan Williams
Gaza/Jerusalem (Reuters) – According to the radical Islamic Hamas, an agreement for a temporary ceasefire and a possible associated release of hostages is within reach in the Gaza war.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said in a statement sent to the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that Hamas negotiators were “close to a ceasefire agreement” with Israel. Hanija did not give any details. However, a Hamas representative told the Al Jazeera television station that the negotiations were about the duration of a ceasefire, the exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Israel and Hamas continued to attack each other unabated.
Haniya further stated that the Hamas negotiators had sent their response to the mediator, the Emirate of Qatar. Hamas representative Issat el Reshiq said both sides would release women and children. Details would be announced by Qatar. Hamas launched a major attack on Israel on October 7th, in which around 1,200 people – mostly civilians – were killed. The Islamist fighters also kidnapped around 240 hostages to the Gaza Strip. Israel responded with a large-scale counteroffensive with air strikes and the arrival of ground troops and announced that it wanted to destroy Hamas.
PRESSURE ON ISRAELI GOVERNMENT – NEGOTIATIONS DIFFICULT
In view of the uncertainty about the whereabouts of the Israeli hostages and the catastrophic conditions among the civilian population in the densely populated Gaza Strip, pressure on the Israeli government from at home and abroad is growing. Since the weekend, signals from the US and Qatar have been fueling hopes of a temporary ceasefire and the release of hostages. At the same time, however, it is repeatedly emphasized that such sensitive negotiations can fail at any time.
Israel accuses Hamas of using civilians and civilian structures such as hospitals as protective shields and of maintaining command centers there. The Islamists reject this. According to Palestinian information, fighting broke out over another hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip on Monday. Israeli tanks circled the area of an Indonesian-financed clinic. At least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens injured in shots fired at the complex, the Hamas-controlled health authority said. The Israeli military said it had returned shots from the clinic. Numerous measures have been taken to avoid civilian casualties.
According to the Gaza Strip’s ruling militia, at least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7. According to a report by the Palestinian news agency Wafa on Tuesday, another 17 Palestinians were killed in Israeli shelling of the Nuseirat refugee camp. There was initially no statement from Israel on this. For its part, Hamas says it is continuing its attacks on Israel. The organization only announced on Telegram on Monday that it had targeted Tel Aviv with numerous rockets.
(Written by Elke Ahlswede, edited by Hans Busemann. If you have any questions, please contact our editorial team at [email protected] (for politics and economics) or [email protected] (for companies and markets)