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Glimmer of hope for a truce in Gaza after almost seven months of war

Photo: Evelyn Hockstein via Associated Press U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 29, 2024

Margaux Bergey and Shaun Tandon – Agence France-Presse respectively in Jerusalem and Riyadh

Posted at 9:14 a.m. Updated at 1:11 p.m.

  • Middle East

Hopes for a truce in the Gaza Strip associated with the release of hostages were reborn on Monday after almost seven months of war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken said on Monday that he “hoped” for a favorable response from Hamas to a proposal that he described as “extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel”.< /p>

A meeting is planned for Monday in Cairo between representatives of Egypt and Qatar – mediator countries with the United States – and Hamas, which must give its response to this proposal negotiated between Israel and Egypt.

“A very generous offer of a 40-day ceasefire, the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of these hostages” was made to Hamas, the head of British diplomacy, David, declared Monday in Riyadh. Cameron, before a meeting of the World Economic Forum.

“It is absolutely necessary that any ceasefire be permanent and not temporary,” said the Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, saying he “supports the release of all hostages.”

Previously, Mr. Blinken told Hamas: “They have to make a decision, and they have to do it quickly […], I hope they make the right decision.”

After Saudi Arabia, Mr. Blinken is expected in Israel on Tuesday, as part of a new tour of the Middle East intended to promote a truce in the Palestinian territory, besieged and plunged into a major humanitarian crisis.

M. Blinken also reiterated his country's opposition to an Israeli offensive on the overcrowded town of Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, which has become a huge refugee camp housing nearly a million and a half Palestinians in sanitary conditions. catastrophic.

“We have not yet seen a plan that allows us to believe that civilians can be effectively protected,” he said during a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Riyadh.

According to doctors and Civil Defense, Israeli strikes on several houses left 22 dead overnight in this city.

“We ask the whole world to call for a lasting truce, that is enough,” said a man, Abou Taha, who was watching over slain relatives at al-Najjar hospital in Rafah.

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  • Hamas says it is “studying” a counter-proposal for an Israeli truce

The heat and the mosquitoes

After having endured the cold of winter, the displaced families are now suffering the heat rising at the end of April, without running water, barely protected from the sun under the canvas of the tents.

« The water we drink is hot,” testified Ranine Aouni al-Arian, a mother displaced from the neighboring town of Khan Younes.

“Children can no longer stand the heat and the bites of flies and mosquitoes,” she explains. Her baby, whom she is holding in her arms, has a face covered in bites.

“We are living in real hell,” Hanane Saber, a displaced by 41 years.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) warned that “waste continues to pile up” and that “the 'running water was scarce'. “As temperatures warm, the risk of disease spread increases,” the agency added.

Despite disapproval from many capitals and humanitarian organizations, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says an offensive on Rafah is necessary to defeat Hamas and free hostages held in Gaza since the war began on October 7.

“Permanent ceasefire”

Egypt said on Monday it was “hopeful” in a truce after the one-week truce at the end of November, believing that the proposal on the table “tried to show moderation.”

“It is too early to talk about a positive atmosphere in the negotiations,” he told AFP Zaher Jabareen, a member of the Hamas political bureau and the negotiating team.

The movement is “in a phase of consultations” before giving its response, he added, reiterating Hamas' demands, starting with “a permanent ceasefire” in Gaza, a hypothesis that Israel has always refused.

Hamas also demands “an (Israeli) withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced, a clear timetable for the start of reconstruction and an exchange agreement that removes all injustice towards Palestinian detainees, men and women”, he said.

According to media reports, the Israeli war cabinet had initially demanded the release of 40 hostages held in Gaza, before authorizing negotiators to lower this number.

The American news site Axios indicated that Israel was demanding the release, for humanitarian reasons, of women, civilians or soldiers, and men over 50 or in poor health.

According to Axios, Hamas says only 20 hostages meet these criteria. The site adds that the number of days of truce would be equal to that of the hostages released.

“Preventing a crime”

The war was sparked on October 7 when Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack in southern Israel, resulting in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP report compiled from official Israeli data.

More than 250 people have been kidnapped and 129 remain captive in Gaza, 34 of whom have died according to Israeli officials.

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. Its offensive in Gaza left 34,488 dead, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health, which counted 34 dead in 24 hours on Monday.

In addition to Rafah, bombings targeted the Palestinian camp of Nousseirat, in the center of the Gaza Strip, on Monday, according to AFP images, as well as the city of Gaza (north).

Sunday in Riyadh, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, called on Washington to prevent Israel from launching an offensive against Rafah.

« If there is a (truce) agreement, we will suspend the operation in Rafah,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Israeli channel N12 on Saturday.

“If there is an opportunity to make a deal, we will do it,” he added.

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