More than 130 hostages are still held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. However, a report from the USA gives hope for them. The overview.
As the UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA comes under increasing pressure over the alleged involvement of some of its employees in the Hamas massacre in Israel, a hostage deal between the conflicting parties could be getting closer.
The New York Times reported, citing US government circles, that US negotiators had drawn up a draft based on proposals from Israel and the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas, which would be discussed in Paris this Sunday. The deal therefore stipulates that Hamas will release more than 100 hostages and that Israel will stop its military action in the Gaza Strip for around two months.
Meanwhile, Germany and eight other countries announced that they would temporarily stop their payments to the United Nations aid organization in the Gaza Strip. Reason: Twelve of the several thousand UNRWA employees in the Gaza Strip are suspected of being involved in the brutal Hamas attack on October 7th last year. The organization immediately fired the suspected employees. An estimated 1,200 people died in the massacre and the terrorists abducted around 240 people to the Gaza Strip.
During a seven-day ceasefire in November, captive Israeli children and women were exchanged for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel. But a little more than 130 people are said to still be in the hands of the terrorists – mostly men and soldiers. Now the talks in Paris could bring movement to further negotiations.
Hostage deal: Is an agreement getting closer?
The New York Times reported that CIA intelligence chief William Burns was scheduled to speak to representatives of Israel, Egypt and Qatar in Paris today. According to the draft, fighting should be paused for 30 days in a first phase. During this time, Hamas should release female, elderly and injured hostages.
In parallel, both sides should negotiate a second phase in which Israeli men and soldiers taken hostage would be released for a further 30 days of ceasefire. The negotiators are “cautiously optimistic”. However, it is still unclear how many imprisoned Palestinians Israel will have to release. The hope is that Israel will not resume fighting in the way it is now after a two-month ceasefire.
UNRWA loses important donors
After several countries announced that they would stop payments, the aid agency UNRWA warned of an end to aid in the Gaza Strip. “Our humanitarian operation, on which two million people depend as a lifeline in Gaza, is collapsing,” wrote UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini on the online platform X (formerly Twitter).
He said he was shocked that such decisions were made based on the alleged behavior of a few people. “The Palestinians in Gaza did not need additional collective punishment.”
According to its own information, the aid organization operates accommodation for more than a million people and provides food and basic medical care. It was founded in 1949 to help Palestinian refugees. UNRWA is active in Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
Nine important donors such as Germany, the USA, Great Britain and Canada had previously announced that they would no longer approve payments to the UN organization for the time being. “Until the clarification is complete, Germany, in coordination with other donor countries, will temporarily not approve any new funds for UNRWA in Gaza,” said the Foreign Office and the Development Ministry in Berlin. In any case, there are currently no new commitments pending.
At the same time, the ministries emphasized that humanitarian aid for the Palestinians was continuing. A few days ago, funding for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN children’s fund Unicef was increased by seven million euros. UNRWA is vital for the basic services of the Palestinian population.
Israel calls for UNRWA chief to resign
Israel had provided the aid organization with information about the twelve suspected employees. UNRWA chief Lazzarini and UN Secretary-General António Guterres were horrified and threatened those affected with criminal consequences. The allegations should now be investigated independently.
Israel sharply criticized Lazzarini. “Mr. Lazzarini, please resign,” wrote Foreign Minister Israel Katz on X. Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy also accused UNRWA of being a “front for Hamas.” “It literally covers Hamas,” he explained on X. Hamas had previously spoken of a smear campaign by Israel against international organizations that help the Palestinians. “The unscrupulous Nazi entity” is trying to “cut off all the lifelines of our people.”
In contrast, Scotland’s head of government called Lazzarini’s announcement that he wanted to have the allegations independently investigated “important”. “The people of Gaza are dying in the middle of a humanitarian catastrophe, they must not be punished collectively,” wrote Humza Yousaf on X. The head of the UN emergency relief office, Martin Griffiths, wrote on Letting Gaza down.”
Appeals and protests for Holocaust remembrance
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again vowed his compatriots to defeat Hamas. “If we don’t eliminate the Hamas terrorists, these new Nazis, the next massacre is only a matter of time,” he said in Tel Aviv. The main lesson from the Holocaust is that “it is only we who are there to defend ourselves.”
At the same time, thousands of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv demanding Netanyahu’s resignation. They accused him of denying his share of responsibility for the circumstances that led to the Hamas massacre.
Holocaust Remembrance Day was celebrated internationally on Saturday. At the commemoration of the 79th anniversary of the liberation of the former German concentration camp Auschwitz, a survivor expressed her horror at the Hamas massacres. “The sons and daughters of the few rescued Holocaust survivors are falling after they have started a new life and found a new home in Israel,” said 94-year-old Halina Birenbaum.
What is important today
According to the New York Times, representatives from Israel, Egypt, Qatar and the United States will meet in Paris on Sunday to negotiate a hostage deal.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.