February 20, 2024

Hamas says it’s finding out Gaza ceasefire proposal, however seems to rule out key provisions


BEIRUT: Hamas officers mentioned Friday that the group is finding out a proposed ceasefire deal that would come with extended pauses in combating in Gaza and swaps of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, however on the similar time appeared to rule out a few of its key elements.

Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official in Beirut, mentioned the group stays dedicated to its preliminary calls for for a everlasting ceasefire. Hamdan additionally mentioned the group seeks the discharge of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners being held for acts associated to the battle with Israel, together with these serving life sentences. He talked about two by title, together with Marwan Barghouti, a well-liked Palestinian rebellion chief seen as a unifying determine.

Hamdan’s feedback on the prisoners had been probably the most detailed calls for but to be raised by the group in public.

The insistence on large-scale prisoner releases and on an finish to the combating in Gaza put the group at odds with the multi-stage proposal that officers from Egypt, Israel, Qatar and the US put forth this week. The proposal doesn’t embrace a everlasting ceasefire.

“There isn’t any approach that this can be acceptable by the resistance,” Hamdan informed Lebanon’s LBC TV on Friday, referring to proposed successive pauses in combating.

Israeli leaders have mentioned they are going to hold combating till Hamas is crushed, even whereas agreeing to lengthy pauses which are accompanied by the discharge of hostages.

Hamas and different militants captured about 250 hostages throughout their lethal Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel that triggered the warfare. They proceed to carry dozens of captives, after greater than 100 had been launched throughout a one-week truce in November, in change for 240 Palestinian prisoners.

Since Israel’s offensive started, greater than 27,000 Palestinians have been killed and 66,000 wounded, in line with the Well being Ministry within the Hamas-run territory. The battle has additionally left huge swaths of the tiny coastal enclave leveled, displaced 85 p.c of its inhabitants and pushed 1 / 4 of residents to hunger.

In his remarks, Hamdan additionally mentioned Hamas needs to free Palestinian prisoners of all factions — not simply these affiliated with the militant group. Along with Barghouti, he named Ahmed Saadat, the pinnacle of the In style Entrance for the Liberation of Palestine, a small PLO faction.

The prisoner launch is a “nationwide trigger, not just for Hamas,” he mentioned.

Each Barghouti and Saadat had been convicted of involvement in deadly assaults through the second Palestinian rebellion in opposition to Israel’s occupation a era in the past.

Alluding to further factors of dispute, Hamdan additionally mentioned that Israel is carving out a buffer zone on the Gaza aspect of the border. Israel has not acknowledged such plans formally, however satellite tv for pc images present new demolition alongside a 1-kilometer-wide (0.6-mile-wide) path alongside the border between Israel and the enclave.

Because the warfare nears the four-month mark, combating continued within the southern metropolis of Khan Younis. The Israeli navy mentioned Friday that its efforts targeted on fighters, weapons and infrastructure within the metropolis, a key goal of Israel’s floor offensive in latest weeks.

Tens of hundreds of residents of Khan Younis and surrounding areas have fled south to the city of Rafah, on the border with Egypt, which the United Nations mentioned on Friday is changing into a “strain cooker of despair.”

“We concern for what comes subsequent,” mentioned Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Workplace for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “It’s like each week we predict, , it will probably’t get any worse. Nicely, go determine. It will get worse.”

Hamdan’s remarks reaffirmed statements from different Hamas officers, together with the group’s prime political chief Ismail Haniyeh, who mentioned Tuesday that the group was finding out the phrases however remained dedicated to searching for the “full withdrawal” of Israeli forces from Gaza and steps towards a long-term ceasefire.

One other Hamas official mentioned Friday that the group would reply “very quickly” and ask for a number of unspecified adjustments. He refused to provide any particulars on what they’re searching for or what number of hostages can be launched in return for what number of prisoners.

The multi-stage proposal on the desk was drafted by officers from the US, Israel, Qatar and Egypt. Qatar and Egypt have been serving as mediators between Israel and Hamas.

A senior Egyptian official accustomed to the discussions on Friday described the proposal, which he mentioned Hamas had despatched optimistic indicators about. The Egyptian official and the Hamas official spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of the oblique talks are nonetheless ongoing.

The proposal, in line with the Egyptian official, contains an preliminary ceasefire of six to eight weeks throughout which Hamas would launch aged hostages, ladies and kids in return for lots of of Palestinians jailed by Israel.

All through that part, negotiations would proceed on prolonging the ceasefire and releasing extra prisoners and hostages. Israel would enable the variety of help vans to coming into Gaza would improve to as much as 300 day by day — from a couple of dozen at present — and let displaced Gaza residents step by step return to their properties within the north, in line with the proposal.