War in the Middle East: Hamas calls for Israel to withdraw before new hostage deal

War in the Middle East: Hamas calls for Israel to withdraw before new hostage deal

Israel wants to free the hostages from Hamas, but negotiations are stalling. Fierce fighting continues in the Khan Yunis area, with residents fleeing. The overview.

The Islamist Palestinian organization Hamas is calling for Israeli troops to be withdrawn from the Gaza Strip before any agreement on a new deal to release more hostages. Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad also told the German Press Agency that the negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the USA had recently been very slow.

Hamas circles in Beirut reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a ceasefire as a first step. Hamas, on the other hand, rejected a proposal from Israel that the Hamas leadership leave the Gaza Strip as part of a negotiated solution.

Several media outlets had recently reported hopes of a further deal to release hostages in return for Palestinian prisoners and a longer ceasefire. On Wednesday, dozens of Palestinian demonstrators called for the release of hostages in an unusual protest in the Gaza Strip to bring an end to the war.

During a week-long ceasefire at the end of November, Hamas released 105 hostages. In return, Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners from prisons. According to Israeli information, out of more than 130 hostages, only a little over 100 are still alive. The hostages include two children, 18 women and a 13-year-old.

Netanyahu calls Qatar “problematic”

Netanyahu’s comments at a meeting with relatives of hostages angered the mediating government in Qatar. Audio recordings of the meeting were leaked to an Israeli TV station. Netanyahu described the Gulf state’s role in negotiations with Hamas over the release of further hostages as “problematic”.

A spokesman for Qatar’s Foreign Ministry wrote on the X platform, formerly Twitter, that they were “appalled” by Netanyahu’s alleged statements. They were “irresponsible and destructive of efforts to save innocent lives, but not surprising,” said the Qatari representative. He accused Netanyahu of undermining the negotiation process “for reasons that appear to serve his political career rather than giving top priority to saving innocent lives, including Israeli hostages.”

Netanyahu reportedly said Qatar was “fundamentally no different” than the United Nations and the Red Cross, “and in some aspects even more problematic.” Israel accuses the two international organizations of unfairly denouncing Israel and instead siding with the Palestinians. Netanyahu also expressed anger that the US has extended its presence at a military base near Doha.

At least twelve dead in incident at UN facility in Gaza

The death toll at a UN facility in the south of the Gaza Strip has risen to twelve. The Gaza director of the UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA, Thomas White, said 75 people were injured when the building in the city of Khan Yunis was hit by two tank shells the day before. A fire then broke out in the center where thousands of internally displaced people were seeking protection. According to a spokeswoman, it is a United Nations vocational training center for young Palestinians.

White did not write who attacked the facility. Eyewitnesses told the German Press Agency that the fire was caused by Israeli bombing. The Israeli army, however, said it was currently ruling out that the incident was due to an Israeli air or artillery attack. An investigation is ongoing. The army is also checking whether it could be a fire from the Islamist Hamas.

White spoke of unacceptable attacks on civilian facilities in Khan Yunis and called for them to end. Heavy fighting near hospitals and shelters left people stranded and life-saving operations hampered. The Nasser and Al-Amal hospitals are surrounded and medical staff and patients are extremely afraid.

The Israeli army said soldiers attacked military facilities and killed extremist fighters in the Khan Yunis area. In the Al-Amal area, snipers “took out terrorists and dismantled their infrastructure and weapons in the area.” Israel repeatedly accuses Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes. Hamas denies this. Freed hostages had also reported being held in rooms in hospitals.

Israel calls on other residents of Khan Yunis to flee

The army called on other residents of the embattled town of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip to flee. People from four city districts should go to a designated safe zone on the Mediterranean, an army spokesman said on the X platform, formerly Twitter. However, the United Nations criticizes that there are no longer any safe areas in the Gaza Strip due to the fierce fighting and constant Israeli attacks.

The military spokesman also announced four-hour breaks in fighting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday – in Deir al-Balah in the central section of the Gaza Strip and in Rafah on the border with Egypt. This should make supplying people easier. Aid workers warn of famine in the embattled Gaza Strip.

USA and Great Britain impose sanctions on Houthi militia

The US and Britain impose sanctions on four senior members of the Houthi militia in Yemen. Sustained Houthi terrorist attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden threaten to disrupt international supply chains and freedom of navigation, the US Treasury Department said in Washington. “The United States is committed to protecting international trade.”

One of those affected by the sanctions is the so-called Houthi defense minister, while another is responsible for carrying out the attacks on merchant ships, according to the US government.

Demonstrators are calling for an end to the war

Residents of the Gaza Strip have demonstrated against the war between Israel and the Islamist organization Hamas in the coastal strip. Eyewitnesses told the dpa that dozens had come to a rally in the city of Khan Yunis in the south of the Palestinian territory, and the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” reported hundreds of participants.

The newspaper reported that people had called on both parties to stop fighting. Accordingly, the Palestinians called on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Jihia al-Sinwar, with chants for a ceasefire.

An Israeli army spokesman and Haaretz published videos that allegedly show a number of demonstrators, especially boys and men, at a protest march. None of the information could initially be independently verified.

Source: Stern

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