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Biden says Israel could cease operations in Gaza during Ramadan

US President Joe Biden said that Israel had accepted to cease its military operations Gaza during Ramadan, in order to allow the release of all Hamas hostages, when the population of the besieged Palestinian territory is threatened with famine after almost five months of war.

Egypt, Qatar and the United States in particular are trying to negotiate a new truce between Israel and Hamas, while the results of the war triggered on October 7 by the movement's unprecedented attack Palestinian Islamist on Israeli soil is approaching 30,000 deaths in Gaza, according to the count of the Hamas Ministry of Health.

The mediators hope to obtain a break in the fighting before the start of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, which begins this year on March 10 or 11, but both camps have refused to compromise until now.

Hamas has been demanding for weeks a complete ceasefire before any agreement on the release of the hostages. Israel, for its part, affirms that a truce would not mean the end of the war and that it would continue until the total elimination of Hamas.

“Ramadan is coming and there was an agreement by the Israelis that they would not engage in operations during Ramadan, to give us time to “release all the hostages” held by Hamas since October 7, Mr. Biden declared Monday on American television NBC.

Biden says Israel could cease operations in Gaza during Ramadan

Food stand in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, February 26, 2024 © AFP – SAID KHATIB

The international community is particularly concerned about the potentially disastrous consequences of an upcoming ground offensive announced by Israel on the overcrowded town of Rafah, in the south of Gaza, where, according to the UN, nearly of a million and a half Palestinians, trapped against the closed border with Egypt.

– “Not done yet” –

“I am hopeful that by next Monday we will have a cease-fire,” Joe Biden said earlier. “My national security adviser tells me we are close, it’s not done yet,” he said.

An Israeli official said to the Ynet news site that “the trend is positive”, on condition of anonymity.

Biden says Israel could cease operations in Gaza during Ramadan

Building destroyed in Beit Lahia, in the north of the Gaza Strip, after an Israeli bombardment on February 26, 2024 © AFP – –

Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, the country at the center of the negotiating efforts and which hosts the political leadership of Hamas, begins a two-day state visit to Paris on Tuesday where he is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.

According to the official Qatari press agency, the emir has just met Hamas leader Ismaïl Haniyeh in Doha and discussed with him efforts “aimed at reaching an immediate and permanent ceasefire agreement.”

But Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed on Sunday that Israel would launch soon a ground operation against Rafah, allowing according to him a “total victory” over Hamas in “a few weeks”.

Biden says Israel could cease operations in Gaza during Ramadan

Bombing of Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, February 26, 2024 © AFP – SAID KHATIB

A truce would only “delay” this offensive, he stressed.

Mr. Netanyahu affirms that Rafah is the “last bastion” of Hamas, four months after the start of the ground offensive, accompanied by deadly bombings, launched on October 27 in the north of Gaza then gradually extended towards the south.

The army presented Monday to the war cabinet “a plan for the evacuation of populations from combat zones in the Gaza Strip, as well as the plan for upcoming operations”, according to the Prime Minister's office, without giving details on where civilians could take refuge.

– “Toll the death knell” of the help –

War broke out on October 7 when Hamas commandos launched an unprecedented attack on southern Israel, killing at least 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data.

During the attack, some 250 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza. According to Israel, 130 hostages are still being held there, 31 of whom are believed to have died, after the release of 105 hostages and 240 Palestinians held by Israel during a truce at the end of November.

Biden says Israel could cease operations in Gaza during Ramadan

Residents of Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, queue for food on February 26, 2024 © AFP – –

In retaliation for the attack, Israel vowed to annihilate Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, which it considers, along with the United States and the European Union, to be a terrorist organization.

The Israeli offensive has so far left 29,878 dead in Gaza, the vast majority of them civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health, which on Tuesday counted 96 dead in 24 hours.

The army for its part announced “carrying out targeted operations” particularly in Zeitun, in the north, and in the center of the territory.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that an offensive on Rafah would “sound the death knell” for humanitarian aid programs in Gaza.

Biden says Israel could cease operations in Gaza during Ramadan

Route of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip © AFP – Laurence SAUBADU, Sylvie HUSSON

This city is the only entry point for humanitarian aid into the territory, where 2.2 million people, according to the UN, are threatened with famine.

Aid is entering in very insufficient quantities from Egypt, subject to the green light from Israel, and its delivery to northern Gaza is almost impossible due to destruction and fighting.

Palestinians in Gaza told AFP of being forced to eat leaves, fodder for livestock, and even slaughter draft animals for food while the rare aid convoys reaching the north are pillaged by the population.

Biden says Israel could cease operations in Gaza during Ramadan

Israeli tanks near the border with the Gaza Strip, February 26, 2024 © AFP – Menahem KAHANA

“We are dying of hunger,” Abdallah Al-Aqra, 40, a refugee in Gaza City, told AFP. He claimed that the army had shot on Sunday “at hungry people who were trying to get flour” brought by an aid truck.

The Prime Minister Israel is facing growing public pressure over the fate of the hostages and protests against its government have resumed.

On Tuesday, Israeli voters began voting in the municipal elections, initially scheduled for the end of October but postponed twice due to the war.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116