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Questions & Answers: What happens next after the end of the ceasefire in the Middle East?

Questions & Answers: What happens next after the end of the ceasefire in the Middle East?

After a week, the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip expired. What does the resurgence of violence mean for the remaining hostages and the civilian population of the coastal area?

The ceasefire is over: Israel’s army says it has resumed fighting against the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In the morning, the week-long break in fighting ended without any further extension. What happened? The most important questions and answers.

Why has the deadline for a ceasefire expired?

Israel accuses the Islamist Hamas of violating the ceasefire agreement. The Israeli army said the terrorists had fired into Israeli territory. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they had also failed to fulfill their obligation to release all female hostages. Israel suspects that 20 women and children are still being held by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas accuses Israel of refusing to accept all offers aimed at releasing more hostages throughout the night in negotiations over a continuation of the ceasefire.

What does the continuation of the fighting mean for people?

The suffering population is completely worn out after around seven weeks of war. Aid workers speak of a dramatic humanitarian crisis. In the south of the Gaza Strip, around two million Palestinian civilians are holding out in emergency shelters in a confined space. They fled there after calls from Israel.

A resurgence of fighting will now further worsen their situation. It is likely that terrorists also mingled with the civilians.

Since the ceasefire began, more aid supplies – more than 1,000 trucks – have arrived in the Gaza Strip than before. It was initially unclear how much help would be allowed after the break in fighting ended. Today, no aid deliveries came through the Rafah border crossing, as the Palestinian spokesman for the crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt said. According to aid organizations, aid last week was only a fraction of the humanitarian supplies needed.

What concerns is the international community?

She fears that the number of civilian victims will rise dramatically again. According to Hamas, almost 15,000 people have been killed and more than 36,000 injured. The information could not initially be independently verified. It is also unclear how many of the victims are civilians.

The World Health Organization also warns of the massive spread of disease, which could ultimately cause more deaths than the fighting itself. If Israel’s army increasingly targets the south of the Gaza Strip, it is also questionable how the population there can be protected.

Israel must present humanitarian plans to protect the civilian population before resuming major military operations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently demanded. The plans should specify exactly in which areas civilians in the southern and central Gaza Strip would be safe. Israel’s army announced new security zones for the civilian population on Friday.

Why does Israel want to keep fighting?

Israel wants to destroy Hamas after the terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians on October 7th so that it will never again pose a threat to the residents of Israel. A spokesman for the Islamist organization has already threatened to repeat the massacres. Israel also wants to free all hostages from the Gaza Strip.

The only reason why the terrorist organization released many of the abductees in the past few days was the military and diplomatic pressure that Israel exerted on them, government spokeswoman Tal Heinrich told CNN. The USA, but also Germany, have so far supported Israel’s rejection of a long-term ceasefire.

Is there a chance of another ceasefire?

According to Qatar’s mediator, negotiations on a possible continuation of the ceasefire in the Gaza war are continuing despite the renewed fighting. However, the resumption of fighting made the talks more difficult. In principle, Israel and Hamas agreed the week before last on a time frame for the ceasefire of a maximum of ten days. However, the agreement expired after just seven days. It had previously been extended twice.

Negotiations on a further ceasefire could also be made more difficult by the fact that Hamas is now likely to make significantly higher demands in return for the release of the remaining, mostly male, hostages. Another problem is that, according to the US government, not all of the hostages are in the hands of Hamas. CNN reported, using unnamed diplomatic sources, that there were an estimated 40 hostages held by other groups.

How many hostages and prisoners have been exchanged so far?

Hamas has so far released 105 hostages, including 14 Germans and several foreigners who were released regardless of the agreement between Israel and Hamas. In return, Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons. These are women and minors, the youngest being 14 years old. They were accused of, among other things, throwing firebombs, arson and knife attacks.

Israel suspects that there are now around 137 hostages in the Gaza Strip, including 11 foreigners. There are also several Germans among them. According to Foreign Office spokesman Majid Al-Ansari on Tuesday, mediator Qatar cannot confirm the exact number of remaining hostages.

What is known about the conditions of hostage detention?

Relatives of hostages have reported in Israeli and international media that there was little food and on some days no food at all. Sometimes those abducted had to wait an hour and a half before they were allowed to use the toilet. They slept on benches or chairs pushed together.

The relative of a released 12-year-old reported that children were threatened with weapons so that they would be quiet. After his release, the boy reported that he was forced to watch videos of the terrorist attack on Israel on October 7th. He also had to spend the first 16 days of his captivity alone in a closed room.

How great is the destruction in the Gaza Strip?

Enormous, that much is certain, as countless photos from the war zone show. According to US researchers, between 67,000 and 88,000 buildings have been damaged since the war began. In the northern Gaza Strip, 50 to 60 percent of the buildings were damaged.

What is Israel’s long-term plan for Gaza?

That is unclear. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would have to continue to play a role in securing the area even after a victory over Hamas. At the same time, the USA, probably Israel’s most important ally, is explicitly warning against a renewed occupation of the Gaza Strip.

The US government wants the Palestinian Authority to be responsible again for the Gaza Strip in addition to the West Bank. The long-term hope is a two-state solution, i.e. a peaceful coexistence between Israel and a Palestinian state – which currently seems unrealistic.

Source: Stern

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