A “truce agreement” in Gaza is near as Qatar mediates
Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, revealed to Reuters on a recent Tuesday that the Palestinian militant group is on the verge of reaching a ceasefire agreement with Israel. This development comes amidst the ongoing violence in Gaza and the firing of rockets into Israel.
In a statement conveyed to Reuters , Haniyeh expressed that Hamas is in the final stages of negotiations for a truce with Israel and has conveyed their response to Qatari mediators. While the statement did not delve into specifics, a Hamas representative disclosed to Al Jazeera TV that the discussions primarily revolve around crucial aspects such as the duration of the ceasefire, the facilitation of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the potential exchange of Israeli hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel. It was mutually agreed that women and children would be released as part of the agreement, with Qatar, serving as the mediator, expected to release more comprehensive details, as confirmed by Issat el Reshiq, the Hamas official.
In contrast, Israel has been relatively reserved in commenting on the progress of the Qatar-led negotiations. Citing an unnamed senior government source, Israel’s Channel 12 television reported that they are in close proximity to a deal but refrained from disclosing further information. It’s noteworthy that during Hamas’s incursion into Israel on October 7, approximately 240 hostages were taken, resulting in a tragic loss of 1,200 lives.
Mirjana Spoljaric, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), held a meeting with Haniyeh in Qatar on Monday to address humanitarian concerns stemming from the conflict. The ICRC, based in Geneva, issued a statement affirming their commitment to advancing humanitarian issues in the region. Additionally, Spoljaric engaged in separate discussions with Qatari authorities.
Qatar is Optimistic
In a separate development, the mediation efforts to secure the release of hostages taken during Hamas’s offensive on October 7 have reportedly reached a critical and final stage, according to Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Majed Al-Ansari. The Qatari mediation has so far led to the release of four hostages, and there is optimism that a humanitarian ceasefire agreement is within reach. However, Al-Ansari emphasized the need for discretion until a final decision is reached.
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Gaza, governed by Hamas, has reported a staggering toll of over 13,300 confirmed Palestinian casualties, including a heartbreaking count of at least 5,600 children, as a result of Israeli bombardments. These attacks have left a devastating mark on Gaza, particularly its northern region, rendering it a wasteland. Furthermore, the conflict has left around two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents homeless, with thousands undertaking arduous journeys southward, often on foot, while the central and southern parts of the enclave, designated as safe zones by Israel, continue to face periodic attacks.