Hamas says Israeli proposal fails to meet Palestinian demands

Published April 10, 2024
Nablus: Black smoke billows amid clashes as Israeli forces raid the Balata camp for Palestinian refugees in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday. The West Bank has seen a surge in violence to levels unseen in nearly two decades, since the Israeli aggression began in Gaza on Oct 7.—AFP
Nablus: Black smoke billows amid clashes as Israeli forces raid the Balata camp for Palestinian refugees in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday. The West Bank has seen a surge in violence to levels unseen in nearly two decades, since the Israeli aggression began in Gaza on Oct 7.—AFP

CAIRO: Hamas said on Tuesday that an Israeli proposal on a ceasefire did not meet the demands of Palestinian factions, but it would study the offer further and deliver its response to mediators.

The proposal was handed to the Palestinian movement by Egyptian and Qatari mediators at talks in Cairo that aim to find a way out of the crisis in the Gaza Strip, now in its seventh month.

Residents said Israeli forces kept up airstrikes on Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza and Rafah on the enclave’s southern edge on Tuesday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly flagged plans for a ground assault on Rafah, where more than one million displaced civilians are holed up, despite international pleas for restraint.

The talks in Cairo, also attended by the director of the US Central Intelligence Agency William Burns, have so far failed to reach a breakthrough towards pausing the Israeli aggression.

“The movement (Hamas) is interested in reaching an agreement that puts an end to the aggression on our people. Despite that, the Israeli position remains intransigent and it didn’t meet any of the demands of our people and our resistance,” Hamas said in a statement following the latest ceasefire proposal.

It said it would review the proposal further and go back to the mediators with its response.

Hamas wants any agreement to secure an end to the Israeli military offensive, a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, and to allow displaced people to return to their homes across the small, densely populated enclave.

Israel wants to secure the release of prisoners seized by Hamas in the Oct 7 cross-border raid. The United States is pushing hard for a ceasefire, after telling its ally Israel to do more to protect civilians in Gaza and let in more aid to prevent a famine.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said 400 aid trucks had been cleared to enter Gaza the previous day, describing it as the most since the crisis started six months ago. He said a good ceasefire offer had been presented to Hamas, which should accept it.

Israel pulled back most of its ground forces from southern Gaza this week after months of fighting, but still says it plans to launch an assault on Rafah, on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, where more than half of Gazans are now sheltering.

In one of the first signs of concrete preparations for a ground assault, Israeli media reported on Tuesday that the Israeli defence ministry was purchasing 40,000 tents ahead of an evacuation of the city.

Netanyahu said Israel’s aims were to release the prisoners and to secure total victory over Hamas. Of the 253 people Hamas seized on Oct 7, 133 prisoners remain captive.Negotiators have spoken of around 40 going free in the first stage of a deal.

Palestinian emergency teams supported by international organisations scoured the rubble of Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and the shattered city of Khan Younis in the south following the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

So far the teams have recovered 409 bodies of Palestinians killed in the hospital and its surrounding neighbourhood and in Khan Younis, according to Mahmoud Basal, spokesperson for the Hamas-run Gaza Civil Emer­gency Service.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2024

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