Israel and Hamas at war, day 150 | Truce negotiations continue in Cairo

Negotiations on a truce between Israel and Hamas resumed Monday in Cairo the day after a call from the United States for an “immediate ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip, besieged and threatened with famine after almost five months of war.




Meanwhile, Israeli bombardments continue without respite on Palestinian territory, where 124 people have been killed in 24 hours, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

The war was sparked on October 7 by an attack by Hamas commandos infiltrated into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,160 people, most of them civilians, according to a count. from AFP based on official Israeli data.

In retaliation, Israel vowed to annihilate Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union.

His army launched an offensive which has so far left 30,534 dead, mostly civilians, according to the Islamist movement’s health ministry.

PHOTO MOHAMMED SALEM, REUTERS

A man mourns a Palestinian killed during Israeli strikes in Rafah on March 4.

” Question of life or death ”

Faced with this heavy toll and a major humanitarian crisis, representatives of Egypt, Qatar and the United States have resumed negotiations in Cairo with a view to a truce.

A Hamas delegation is also in Cairo but Israel is not participating in the talks.

A television close to Egyptian intelligence spoke on Sunday of “significant progress”. “Egypt continues its intense efforts to achieve a truce before Ramadan,” which begins on the evening of March 10 or 11, AlQahera News said.

The mediating countries have been trying for weeks to extract a compromise from the two camps in order to obtain a truce agreement which would notably allow the release of hostages held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

According to Israel, 130 hostages are still being held in Gaza, 31 of whom are believed to have died, out of around 250 people kidnapped on October 7.

Before any agreement, Hamas demands a definitive ceasefire, an increase in humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip, a return to the north of hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians and an Israeli military withdrawal from the territory.

PHOTO AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A man carries bags of humanitarian aid to the distribution center of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on March 3 in Rafah.

Israel rejects these conditions, saying it wants to continue its offensive until the elimination of Hamas. He also demands that the Islamist movement provide a list of hostages held in Gaza.

To achieve “total victory” against Hamas, Israel announced that it was preparing a ground offensive on Rafah, a town located in the far south of the Gaza Strip, against the closed border with Egypt, where there are massed, according to the UN, nearly a million and a half Palestinians in a desperate humanitarian situation.

Famine is “virtually inevitable”, according to the UN, for 2.2 million inhabitants of Gaza, the vast majority of the population.

The war also caused the collapse of the health system and the lack of electricity in particular threatens the functioning of the last hospitals still in service. “Electricity is a matter of life and death in hospitals,” said Hiba Tibi, director of the NGO Care in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

” No excuses ”

“Given the extent of the suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks, which is currently on the negotiating table,” the US vice president said on Sunday. Kamala Harris.

She reiterated the demand for the United States, Israel’s main ally, to let more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. “There are no excuses,” she added.

Humanitarian aid, which arrives in trickles into the territory, mainly from Egypt via Rafah, is subject to the control of Israel, which imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2007 before completely besieging it on October 9.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir rejected this call for a ceasefire on Monday. “The time has come to destroy Hamas, Kamala,” he said on X.

In front of members of his far-right Jewish Force party, he said it is now necessary “to end the talks and move immediately to a more powerful combat phase.”

Benny Gantz, a member of the Israeli war cabinet, is to meet Monday in Washington withme Harris, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

On Monday, Israeli bombardments mainly targeted Rafah and Khan Younes in the south, Nusseirat in the center, as well as Jabaliya and Gaza City in the north, according to the Hamas government and witnesses.

PHOTO FATIMA SHBAIR, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Palestinians search for survivors and bodies in the rubble of a residential building destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah on March 4.

The Israeli army said its soldiers were seeking to surround the western part of Khan Yunis, where “terrorists on the run are hiding”.

On Monday, a displaced person, Sameh Abdel Hadi, told AFP that he found himself trapped under the rubble of a building in Rafah after a bombing which left five dead and three missing. “The whole roof fell in. For half an hour I couldn’t see anything. Then people arrived and broke down the door to evacuate me,” he testified.

“We are not part of the resistance (Hamas, Editor’s note), as you can see,” he added.

In Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, said he feared that the war in Gaza would lead “to a much wider conflagration”, citing the exchanges of fire on the Israeli border. -Lebanese between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, ally of Hamas, and attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels against ships off the coast of Yemen.

“The United States is convinced that a diplomatic solution is the only way to end the hostilities” between Israel and Hezbollah, said an American envoy, Amos Hochstein, in Beirut.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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