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Gaza: Biden presses Hamas for a truce, 4th day of talks in Cairo

Joe Biden urged Hamas à accept a ceasefire à Gaza before Ramadan, the question of a truce between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement being the subject of discussions in Cairo which enter their fourth day on Wednesday.

Five months of fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas have plunged the Gaza Strip into a humanitarian crisis, particularly the north, which is difficult to access, where hunger is reaching “catastrophic levels”, according to the World Food Program (WFP).

The WFP announced on Tuesday that one of its humanitarian convoys, its first to northern Gaza in 15 days, was looted by “a desperate crowd” after being blocked at an Israeli checkpoint inside Palestinian territory.

Faced with the humanitarian catastrophe, the United States, Israel's main supporter, is pushing for a ceasefire before Ramadan, the holy month of Muslim fasting, which begins on March 10 or 11.

“It's in the hands of Hamas”, declared the American president on Tuesday, judging that the Israelis were “cooperative”.

Joe Biden estimated that the situation would become “very dangerous” in Israel, particularly in Jerusalem, in the event of continued hostilities during Ramadan.

The way negotiations “will not be open indefinitely”, warned a Hamas official based in Beirut.

For weeks, Egypt, Qatar and the United States, which acts as mediator, is trying to obtain a truce in the war triggered by the unprecedented attack by Hamas in Israel on October 7.

– “Difficult” discussions –

In Cairo, “difficult” discussions that began on Sunday are to continue on Wednesday between representatives of the three countries and Hamas, but without an Israeli, reported the AlQahera News channel, close to Egyptian intelligence, citing a senior official.

The plan discussed calls for a six-week truce that would allow the release of hostages held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, as well as an increase in humanitarian aid in the besieged Palestinian territory.

< img alt = "israeli army" src = "https://img-4.linternaute.com/qger-lwrkxscccsr74vy4ykyjha=/600x/smart/0a8901a0cb7e48819569aec7a34ad081/ccmcms-linternaute/5631275. JPG " />An Israeli soldier operating in the Gaza Strip. Photo distributed by the Israeli army on March 5, 2024 © Israeli Army – –

On Tuesday, a Hamas leader, Mahmoud Mardawi, reiterated to AFP Hamas' demands before any agreement on the hostages: a definitive ceasefire, a withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, the reconstruction of the territory and the return of those displaced by war.

Israel rejects these conditions, assures that the offensive will continue until “total victory”, and, according to media reports, also requests a precise list of hostages held in Gaza.

According to Israel, 130 hostages are still in the Gaza Strip, including 31 presumed dead, out of some 250 people kidnapped on October 7.

The war was started that day – there by an attack by Hamas commandos infiltrated into southern Israel from Gaza, which led to the death of at least 1,160 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data .

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

The Israeli offensive has left at least 30,631 dead in the Gaza Strip, the majority civilians, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Defense. Health of Hamas.

Alongside diplomatic efforts, fighting continues on the ground and Israel is determined to launch a land operation on Rafah, in the far south of the territory, on the closed border with Egypt, where nearly 1.5 million people are massed. of Palestinians, according to the UN.

– “More aid” –

The Americans raise the tone in recent days in the face of the increasingly catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza: Biden presses Hamas for a truce, 4th day of talks in Cairo

US President Joe Biden speaks on March 5, 2024 in Washington © AFP – Brendan SMIALOWSKI

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden called for “more aid” and said that Israel has “no excuses” for restricting the entry of convoys waiting at the border with Egypt.

Subject to Israeli control, aid currently only enters the Palestinian territory in trickles, mainly from Rafah.

According to the UN, famine is “almost inevitable” for 2.2 of the 2.4 million inhabitants.

The situation is particularly critical in the largely ravaged north of the territory where the delivery of aid by land is made difficult by the destruction and fighting.

According to the WFP, 14 trucks carrying around 200 tonnes of food were heading north on Tuesday, for the first time since the agency suspended deliveries there on February 20. The convoy was then stopped at an Israeli army checkpoint.

After three hours of waiting at this checkpoint in the center of the territory, the convoy was forced to turn back and then looted by “a desperate crowd who seized the load”, said the UN agency.

Gaza: Biden presses Hamas for a truce, 4th day of talks in Cairo

Palestinian children receive food rations on March 5, 2024 in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. © AFP – MOHAMMED ABED

On February 29, a stampede accompanied by Israeli fire during an aid distribution in the city of Gaza (north) left more than a hundred dead, according to the Ministry of Health of Hamas.

In addition, eight transport planes from Jordan, the United States, France and Egypt airdropped aid into northern Gaza on Tuesday, Hamas announced. Jordanian army, which refers to “the largest operation of this type” since the start of the crisis.

“Airdrops are a solution of last resort and will not allow “avoid famine”, underlined Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the WFP.

“We need entry points into northern Gaza to deliver enough food for half a million people who desperately need it,” said he added.

The UN also urged the world to “flood” Gaza with aid.

“Children who are starting to die of hunger (…) this should be an alarm like no other,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Tuesday. ).

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