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Prospects for ceasefire between Hamas and Israel fade

Photo: Said Khatib Agence France-Presse Displaced Palestinian children carry rations of red lentil soup, distributed by volunteers, February 18, 2024, in Rafah, Gaza, which is approaching famine, according to the United Nations World Food Program.

Mai Yaghi – Agence France-Presse and Emmanuel Duparcq – Agence France-Presse in Jerusalem

10:29 a.m.

  • Middle East

Prospects for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza faded on Sunday, with Qatari negotiators expressing pessimism about the possibility of a truce.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is determined to carry out a ground offensive in Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians are crowded together, despite calls from part of the international community.

For its part, Washington once again threatened to block a new draft resolution at the UN Security Council at the initiative of Algeria, demanding “a humanitarian ceasefire immediate which must be respected by all parties”. Algiers requested a vote be held on Tuesday.

On Sunday, from Addis Ababa, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva accused Israel of committing a “genocide” of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, drawing a parallel with the extermination of the Jews carried out by the Hitler regime.

For his part, the day before, Mr. Netanyahu remained steadfast in his decision to launch an offensive in Rafah. “Anyone who wants to stop us from carrying out an operation in Rafah is basically telling us to lose the war. I’m not going to give in to this,” he said in Jerusalem.

Serious concerns have been expressed around the world, including by the American ally, for the civilians, most of them displaced, in this city located on the closed border with Egypt.< /p>

During a telephone call with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, according to his services, repeated “Egypt's categorical position of rejecting the movement of Palestinians [towards its territory, editor's note] | in any form.”

In recent days, an Egyptian NGO and the Wall Street Journal reported that Egypt was building a closed and secure camp in the Sinai intended to welcome Palestinian refugees in the event of an Israeli offensive on Rafah.

Negotiations are stalling

Negotiations involving Egyptian, American and Qatari mediators to obtain a truce between Hamas and Israel, including an exchange between Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, have taken place in recent weeks.

They have “not been very promising in recent days,” but “we will do our best to get closer” to an agreement, Qatar Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdelrahmane al-Thani said in Munich.

Hamas, which took power in Gaza in 2007, threatened to walk out of those talks if “[humanitarian] aid was not delivered to northern Gaza.”

Its leader, Ismaïl Haniyeh, repeated that his movement demanded a ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Conditions rejected several times by Israel, whose offensive in Gaza has razed entire neighborhoods, displaced 1.7 million of the 2.4 million inhabitants and caused a major humanitarian crisis according to the UN .

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Military operation against the Nasser hospital

On October 7, Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an attack in southern Israel during which more than 1,160 people were killed, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data .

Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas, which it classifies, like the United States and the European Union, as “terrorist”. The offensive of its army in Gaza has cost the lives of 28,985 people, the vast majority civilians, according to a new report on Sunday from the Hamas Ministry of Health.

According to Israel, 130 hostages are still being held in Gaza, 30 of whom are believed to have died, out of around 250 people kidnapped on October 7. At the end of November, a one-week truce allowed the release of 105 hostages and 240 Palestinians held by Israel.

After carrying out incessant bombings against the 362 km2 territory since October 7, the Israeli army launched a ground offensive in the north of the Gaza Strip at the end of October before extending it to the south.

Its soldiers have been concentrating their operations for weeks in Khan Younes, hometown of Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahia Sinouar, alleged mastermind of the October 7 attack.

At the Nasser hospital in the city transformed into a field of ruins, seven patients including a child have died since Friday due to power cuts, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.< /p>

Soldiers entered the hospital on Thursday based on information that hostages were being held there, the army said, reporting the arrest of 100 people and the discovery of weapons.

Two Palestinians killed in West Bank

On the other hand, the Hamas Ministry of Health indicated that “70 members of the hospital's medical staff, including doctors [from the] intensive care unit” were arrested. “There are only 25 medical staff left […] and they cannot handle cases that require extreme clinical care,” added the same source, reporting the “arrest of dozens of patients while they were bedridden” and who were taken to “an unknown destination.”

For its part, the army said on Sunday that it had killed around 45 “terrorists” in Khan Younes and in the center of the territory, in the last 24 hours.

In the occupied West Bank, in Tulkarem, two Palestinians were killed on Sunday during a raid by Israeli forces, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

This brings to 397 the number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank by the army or by settlers since October 7, according to the same source.

On another front, the Israeli army said on Sunday that it had carried out airstrikes and artillery fire against “terrorist infrastructure” of the pro-Iranian Islamist movement Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon.

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