War in the Middle East: Report: Israel agrees to some Hamas demands

War in the Middle East: Report: Israel agrees to some Hamas demands
War in the Middle East: Report: Israel agrees to some Hamas demands

Negotiations on a temporary ceasefire and a hostage deal are proving difficult. According to a report, there is now movement. The news at a glance.

According to media reports, in the difficult indirect negotiations over a temporary ceasefire in the Gaza war and an exchange of hostages for prisoners, Israel is said to be prepared to partially respond to the demands of the Islamist Hamas. The Jewish state would now release 700 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons if Hamas released 40 of around 100 Israeli hostages still alive, wrote the usually well-informed Israeli journalist Barak Ravid in the evening on the news portal “Walla” and on the platform X, previously Twitter. Among the Palestinians to be released would be 100 prisoners who received life sentences for terrorist crimes.

The negotiations, which have been dragging on for several months, are currently underway in the Qatari capital Doha with the mediation of the USA, Egypt and Qatar. They aim for an agreement in several phases.

The first step would involve a six-week ceasefire and the release of 40 hostages held by Hamas. The original proposal, which Israel accepted, would have included the release of 400 Palestinian prisoners, including 25 with life sentences. This did not go far enough for Hamas. The new formula was proposed by Qatar and initially rejected by Israel. Ravid wrote that Israel had changed its mind in the last few days at the urging of CIA chief William Burns, who had come to Doha especially.

Gallant travels to the USA

According to his ministry, Defense Minister Joav Galant left for Washington today. The talks with Israel’s most important ally are about a planned ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The USA rejects this because there are currently around 1.5 million people there.

The Gaza war was triggered by the attack by Hamas and other groups in southern Israel on October 7th. The terrorists killed 1,200 people in the massacre and kidnapped 250 others as hostages in the Gaza Strip. Israel attacked the coastal area to crush Hamas. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, more than 32,000 Palestinians have died – both civilians and fighters.

Baerbock calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is demanding that Israel and the Islamist Hamas give in to the negotiations in Qatar. “Only an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that leads to a permanent ceasefire will keep hope for peace alive – for Palestinians and Israelis alike,” demanded the Green politician before renewed crisis talks on Monday and Tuesday. It is Baerbock’s sixth visit to Israel since Hamas’ bloody terrorist attack on the country on October 7th.

The deaths of the people in Gaza and the suffering of the more than 100 hostages still held captive by Hamas are intertwined, Baerbock recalled. “The suffering must end for everyone.” The negotiations in Doha, the capital of the Gulf Emirate of Qatar, should now finally lead to success.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz reacted negatively to Baerbock’s call for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. “We expect our friends to continue to support Israel in these challenging times and not to weaken it against the terrorist organization Hamas,” he wrote on X. A humanitarian ceasefire cannot be announced without the release of the Israeli hostages. Regarding humanitarian assistance to Gaza, “we need to work on it together,” he added.

Disagreements between Israel and its ally USA

In view of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the sealed-off coastal area, Israel is increasingly exposed to international pressure – including from its ally the USA. The USA and Israel disagree about the ground offensive in Rafah planned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin intends to present alternative military options to the Israeli delegation in Washington. There are fears that a major military offensive could result in a lot of bloodshed.

Netanyahu had already announced the Rafah offensive at the beginning of February and approved the military’s plans for it several times. It was necessary to destroy Hamas’ last four battalions and thus destroy the Islamist organization’s military fighting ability, it was said.

Ground operation in Rafah: Whether and how is still unclear

The civilian population in Rafah will be brought to safety before such an offensive begins. Israel has not yet made it clear exactly how this would work. Military experts in Israel point out that it would take weeks for such an offensive to begin because the military would have to mass much larger forces in Gaza for this purpose.

At the same time, the Israeli guest would like to appear in Washington about new arms purchases. According to a report by the news portal “axios.com”, not only supplies of ammunition and weapons for the Gaza war are on Galant’s wish list, but also long-term needs such as additional F-35 and F-15 fighter jets.

US Vice: Don’t rule out consequences

Meanwhile, the US government is not ruling out consequences in the event of an offensive in Rafah. “I’m not ruling anything out,” said US Vice President Kamala Harris in a TV interview when asked a journalist about this. “We have made it clear in several conversations and in every way that any major military operation in Rafah would be a huge mistake,” Harris said.

The 59-year-old did not provide any details about the possible consequences of the US government. We will take it one step at a time, she emphasized. The US position on a ground offensive is clear.

AA criticizes announcement of further settlement construction

The Foreign Office criticized Israel’s announcement that it would declare a larger area in the West Bank as Israeli state land. “We strongly condemn the announcement to confiscate over 800 hectares of land in the Palestinian territories as Israeli “state land”. This would be the largest appropriation in over 30 years,” the Foreign Ministry said on X in Berlin. The settlement construction violates international law and “contributes to further tensions in the extremely fragile situation.”

According to Israeli media reports, Israel’s civil administration has declared 800 hectares in the West Bank as state land. This corresponds to an area of ​​more than 1,100 football fields. Among other things, hundreds of settler apartments are to be built in the area. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) wanted to travel to the Middle East in the afternoon for further crisis talks. The settlements and violence by right-wing extremist Israeli settlers are likely to be discussed at their talks in Israel and the Palestinian territories on Monday and Tuesday.

Aid agency boss: Israel is not allowing UNRWA convoys into northern Gaza

Meanwhile, according to the head of the UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA, Israel no longer allows the organization to send humanitarian convoys to the north of the Gaza Strip, which is affected by a particularly dire emergency. UNRWA is being prevented from bringing life-saving aid to northern Gaza, wrote Philippe Lazzarini on the platform X, formerly Twitter. The responsible Israeli authority informed UNRWA on the same day that it would not authorize the organization’s food convoys to the north of Gaza in the future.

“This is outrageous, this restriction must be lifted,” wrote Lazzarini. As a result of the war that Israel is waging against the Islamist Hamas, which has lasted more than five months, the supply situation for the Palestinians is considered catastrophic throughout the Gaza Strip, according to aid organizations. According to UN organizations, there is even a risk of famine in the northern part of the sealed-off coastal strip.

Israelis demonstrate for hostages and against Netanyahu

Thousands of people demonstrated in Israel yesterday evening for the release of hostages held by Hamas and against the Netanyahu government. In Tel Aviv they shouted “Time is running out, bring her home!”, Israeli media reported. The demonstrators set several small fires on the streets in the center of the coastal metropolis and blocked a main road.

The slogans were also directed against Netanyahu, whom critics accuse of having failed in crisis management following the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7th. In addition, the head of government would subordinate the fate of the hostages to the needs of his political survival. As on previous Saturdays, they called for the resignation of the Netanyahu government and new elections. One of the speakers said: “My cousin Ofer has been a prisoner of Hamas for 169 days. And we have been prisoners of our government for 169 days.”

Several hundred people also demonstrated in front of Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem. “Decisive negotiations are taking place in Qatar these days,” said a speaker whose brother is among the hostages. “Israel’s government must not let this opportunity pass.”

Israel attacks Hezbollah targets in Lebanon

The Israeli Air Force has again attacked targets of the pro-Iranian Shiite militia Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Israeli army said a Hezbollah weapons production facility near the city of Baalbek in the northeast was attacked. According to local authorities, three people were injured. Baalbek is considered a Hezbollah stronghold and is located about 100 kilometers from the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Shortly afterwards, according to the Israeli army, around 50 rockets were fired from Lebanon by Hezbollah. Some of the rockets were intercepted, others fell in open areas. There were initially no reports of injuries or damage. The army then targeted the locations from which the rockets were fired, Israeli media reports said.

Source: Stern

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