Middle East: Hamas “does not want to back down” from demands before negotiations

Middle East: Hamas “does not want to back down” from demands before negotiations
A refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Islamist organization said on Saturday it was sticking to its March 14 demands for a complete ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip. “We will not back down from this position,” it said.

Negotiations about a ceasefire and the release of hostages have been going on for months – but have so far been unsuccessful. As part of the only agreement to date between Israel and Hamas brokered by the USA, Qatar and Egypt, around a hundred hostages were released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a week-long ceasefire at the end of November.

On Friday, a high-ranking US government official emphasized that Hamas had so far prevented an agreement. “This fundamental fact remains true: There could be a ceasefire in Gaza today if Hamas had simply agreed to release this particularly vulnerable category of hostages: the sick, the injured, the elderly and young women.”

According to the Times of Israel newspaper, US President Joe Biden asked the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in letters to urge Hamas to agree to a six-week ceasefire and the release of 40 hostages to agree. According to the news portal Axios, the USA wants to help the indirect negotiations achieve a breakthrough in Cairo this weekend. For this purpose, CIA Director William Burns is to meet in the Egyptian capital with the head of the Israeli foreign intelligence agency Mossad, David Barnea, as well as Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and the Egyptian Intelligence Minister Abbas Kamel.

Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the USA and the EU, and other militant Palestinian groups brutally attacked Israel on October 7th, killing 1,140 people and kidnapping around 250 people as hostages in the Gaza Strip. About 130 of them are still being held, 34 of whom are presumed dead.

Israel has been taking massive military action in the Gaza Strip since the unprecedented Hamas attack. According to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, which cannot be independently verified, more than 33,100 people have now been killed. The people in the Palestinian territory suffer from a catastrophic supply situation.

Joaquin Phoenix supports Glazer after Gaza statement

According to a media report, more than 150 Jewish filmmakers have expressed their support for Oscar winner Jonathan Glazer. The Jewish director (“The Zone of Interest”) faced criticism after his acceptance speech at the Oscars, in which he addressed the Gaza war. The signatories include actor Joaquin Phoenix and directors Joel Coen and Todd Haynes, as the US industry magazine “Variety” reported. “We are Jewish artists, filmmakers, authors and creatives who support Jonathan Glazer’s statement from the 2024 Academy Awards. We were alarmed to see how some of our colleagues in the industry misrepresented and denounced his statements,” it said open letter.

Glazer won the Oscar for best international film in March for “The Zone of Interest.” The drama is about the family of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höß. “Our film shows what dehumanization can lead to in the worst case,” said the 59-year-old Brit. “It has shaped our entire past and the present. Right now we stand here as people who are resisting their Jewishness and the Holocaust being exploited by an occupation that has led so many innocent people into conflict. Whether it is the “The victims of October 7th in Israel, the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization. How do we resist?”

Afterwards there was approval, but also criticism. Prominent Jewish industry representatives such as Amy Sherman-Palladino (maker of “Gilmore Girls”) denounced his speech in an open letter and criticized, among other things, a generalization of the Shoah.

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