Hamas gives ‘initial’ approval to plan for pause in Gaza fighting

Published February 2, 2024
A displaced Palestinian woman sits by a tent while sheltering in a UNRWA school in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip February 1, 2024. — Reuters
A displaced Palestinian woman sits by a tent while sheltering in a UNRWA school in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip February 1, 2024. — Reuters

GAZA CITY: Hamas has given its “initial” approval to a planned humanitarian pause in Gaza Strip and a prisoner exchange with Israel, a Qatari official said on Thursday.

But a source close to Hamas said there was no agreement yet on the proposal. “There is no agreement on the framework of the agreement yet as the factions have important observations and the Qatari statement is rushed and not true,” the source explained.

The source had said earlier this week after a meeting in Paris that Hamas is reviewing a three-stage plan which would start with a six-week halt to the fighting and more aid deliveries into Gaza Strip. Officials from the United States, Egypt, Israel and Qatar had attended the meeting.

Only “women, children and sick men over 60” held by Gaza fighters would be freed during that stage in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel, the source said.

There would also be “negotiations around the withdrawal of Israeli forces”, with possible additional phases involving more prisoner exchanges, said the source.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out withdrawing troops from Gaza and has repeatedly vowed to destroy Hamas.

Netanyahu has also opposed releasing thousands“ of Palestinian prisoners as part of any deal.

Qatar-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was expected in Cairo on Friday for consultations on proposals discussed in Paris.

In Doha, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari said: “The meeting in Paris succeeded in consolidating the (ceasefire) proposals.”

“That proposal has been approved by the Israeli side and now we have an initial positive confirmation from the Hamas side.”

119 killed in Israeli strikes

The Israeli army said on Thursday troops had destroyed a long-range missile launcher in the embattled southern city of Khan Yunis.

According to the health ministry in Gaza, 119 people were killed in the latest night of strikes, while aid and health workers have for days reported heavy fighting.

“There is a massacre taking place right now,” said Leo Cans of international aid group Doctors Without Borders.

The UN also reported heavy bombardment across Gaza, particularly in Khan Yunis, while it said 184,000 more Palestinians from the city had registered to receive humanitarian assistance after fleeing their homes in recent days.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Not without reform
Updated 22 Apr, 2024

Not without reform

The problem with us is that our ruling elite is still trying to find a way around the tough reforms that will hit their privileges.
Raisi’s visit
22 Apr, 2024

Raisi’s visit

IRANIAN President Ebrahim Raisi, who begins his three-day trip to Pakistan today, will be visiting the country ...
Janus-faced
22 Apr, 2024

Janus-faced

THE US has done it again. While officially insisting it is committed to a peaceful resolution to the...
Elections in India
Updated 21 Apr, 2024

Elections in India

Independent accounts and spot reports are at variance with Modi-friendly TV anchors and they do not see an easy victory for the Indian premier.
IHC letter
21 Apr, 2024

IHC letter

THIS is a historic opportunity for the judiciary to define its institutional boundaries. It must not be squandered....
Olympic preparations
21 Apr, 2024

Olympic preparations

THIS past week marked the beginning of the 100-day countdown to the Paris Olympics, with the symbolic torch-lighting...