Gaza Strip | Talks accelerated on Tuesday over the release of hostages from Hamas in exchange for a truce in the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian Islamist movement accuses Israel of a deadly attack on a besieged hospital.
“The movement (Hamas, editor’s note) gave its answer to the brothers in Qatar and the mediators. We are close to concluding a truce agreement,” Hamas leader Ismaïl Haniyeh said on Tuesday, in a brief message in Arabic sent by his office to AFP.
According to sources in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the second Palestinian Islamist armed group, the two movements have agreed to a deal, the details of which are to be announced by Qatar and mediators. The Israeli government did not immediately react to these statements.
The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mirjana Spoljaric, met Monday evening with Qatari leaders and Mr. Haniyeh, based in the Gulf emirate, to “advance humanitarian issues linked to the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza”.
Qatar, Egypt and the United States are working on a deal to try to free hostages kidnapped in Israel by Hamas in exchange for a truce in the Gaza Strip.
Although the ICRC assured that it would not participate in these talks, it insisted that its “teams are authorized to visit the hostages to ensure their well-being and administer medicine, and so that the hostages can communicate with their families”, according to a press release.
“We have never been so close, we are sure. But there is still work to be done. Nothing is done until everything is done,” said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
To a reporter who asked him the following question: “Is an agreement to release the hostages close?” “, US President Joe Biden replied in Washington: “I believe.”
Any final details?
Two sources close to the matter told AFP on Tuesday that the talks centered on a deal to release “50 to 100” hostages in exchange for the release of 300 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, including children and women.
The transfer would be carried out in stages at the rate of ten Israeli hostages against thirty Palestinian prisoners per day and would include the entry of food, medical aid and fuel and above all a “five-day renewable humanitarian truce”.
But Israel insists on “family reunification” — meaning that if a civilian was released, his partner would also be released, even if he was a soldier — which Hamas, opposed to releasing soldiers, rejects at the moment, as reported. these two sources.
Relatives of the hostages met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his “war cabinet” on Monday evening, under pressure to bring the roughly 240 hostages back to Israel.
“Getting our hostages back is a sacred and supreme task and I am committed to it,” Benjamin Netanyahu told the families on the social network.
“We will not stop the fighting until we bring our hostages home, destroy Hamas and ensure there are no more threats from Gaza,” he added.
The recovery of the hostages is one of the objectives of the ongoing Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip and launched following the bloody attack on October 7 by the Palestinian Islamist movement.
In Israel, 1,200 people, the vast majority civilians, were killed, according to the authorities, in this attack of unprecedented scale and violence in the country’s history.
In retaliation, Israel has vowed to “annihilate” Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel, and has relentlessly bombed the Palestinian territory, where its army has also been conducting a ground offensive since 27 of October . .
In the Gaza Strip, more than 13,300 people were killed in Israeli bombings, including more than 5,600 children, according to the Hamas government.
According to the UN, nearly 1.7 million of the 2.4 million inhabitants have been displaced by the war in the Gaza Strip, subjected since October 9 to a “total siege” by Israel , which blocks deliveries of food, water, electricity and medicine.
The army said overnight that its soldiers were “continuing to fight” in the northern Gaza Strip, while Palestinian sources reported tensions at the Indonesian hospital, targeted a day before Israeli attacks that killed 12 patients and their loved ones” and caused “dozens of injuries”, according to Hamas.
The Islamist movement constantly repeats that Israel is waging “a war against hospitals” in Gaza, almost all of which in the north of the territory no longer work.
Israel, for its part, accuses Hamas of using the hospitals for military purposes and of using the civilians there as “human shields”, which the Palestinian movement denies.
The head of Indonesian diplomacy Retno Marsudi condemned this “Israeli attack (…) which killed many civilians and is a clear violation of international humanitarian law”.
According to local hospital sources, more than a hundred wounded were transferred in the evening and at night from this hospital to the Nasser complex in Khan Younes, south of the Gaza Strip.
“We miraculously escaped. A strike hit the school (where the displaced took refuge, ed),” a displaced young man told AFP. “We were at the Zeitoune school in Gaza City and from school we went to the hospital in Indonesia. I just can’t (speak).”
Overnight, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported an Israeli attack that killed and wounded a residence in Nuseirat camp, located in the center of the Gaza Strip.
On Monday, 28 premature babies evacuated over the weekend from al-Chifa hospital, the largest in Gaza and stormed on November 15 by the Israeli army, were transferred “in complete safety” to Egypt, announced the ‘World Health Organization (WHO).
Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to participate in a virtual meeting of the emerging Brics countries on Tuesday on the war in Gaza, while his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is due to receive his counterparts from the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.