Mediators continue negotiations in Egypt to reach a truce in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamasafter having achieved the day before “significant advances” and after the United States urged a ceasefire.

According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, 124 people died in the last 24 hours in Gaza, under incessant Israeli bombardments and on the verge of famine after almost five months of war.

The war broke out after the unprecedented attack by Hamas commandos in Israel on October 7, in which some 1,160 people, mostly civilians, died, according to an AFP count based on Israeli data.

In response, Israel launched an offensive that has left at least 30,534 dead in Gazamostly civilians, according to the territory’s Ministry of Health.

Israel announced this Monday, March 4, 2024, that it recalled its ambassador to the UN for consultations, denouncing that the organization tried to “silence” reports of acts of sexual violence committed by Hamas during its attack.

On the other hand, representatives of Egypt, Hamas, Qatar and the United States are negotiating a truce in Cairo and a television station close to the Egyptian Government reported that “significant progress” was achieved.

“Egypt continues its intense efforts to reach a truce before Ramadan” that will begin on March 10 or 11, AlQahera News reported, citing “a senior official.”

Mediators have been trying to obtain a ceasefire for weeks and the release of hostages held in Gaza in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Around 250 people were kidnapped by the Islamists in the October 7 attack. A truce in late November allowed the release of 105 hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.

“Immediate ceasefire”

To accept an agreement, Hamas demands the return of displaced people to northern Gaza, an increase in humanitarian aid, a definitive ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Israeli military.

Israel, which is not participating in the Cairo negotiations, rejects these conditions and says it will continue its military operations until “annihilate” to Hamas. It also demands that the Islamist movement provide a list of the hostages still being held in Gaza.

Basem Naim, a senior Hamas official, stated this Monday in Cairo that the movement does not know “who is alive or who has died from bombings or hunger“.

The UN warned that Famine is “almost inevitable” for 2.2 million of the 2.4 million inhabitants of this narrow territorysubjected to an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since Hamas took power in 2007.

In addition, entire neighborhoods have been razed and 1.7 million people have been displaced. Most live in overcrowded areas in Rafah, southern Gaza, next to the closed border with Egypt.

“Given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks, which is what is currently on the table,” urged Kamala Harris, vice president of the United States, Israel’s main ally, on Sunday.

The Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, rejected this call this Monday, stating that “The time has come to destroy Hamas, Kamala“.

Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan are scheduled to meet with Israeli politician Benny Gantz in Washington on Monday.

Gantz is a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli war cabinet, but also a centrist political rival of the far-right prime minister, whom he harshly criticized before the war.

“Much wider conflagration”

In recent hours, Israeli bombings have targeted Rafah and Khan Yunis in the south, Jabaliya and Nusseirat in the center, and Gaza City in the north, according to the Hamas government and witnesses.

The Israeli army stated that its troops seek to surround the western part of Khan Younis where “escaped terrorists are hiding“.

Furthermore, he denounced that, “according to intelligence services, more than 450 terrorists belonging to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, mainly Hamas, are also employed by UNRWA,” the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk warned in Geneva that the war in Gaza could lead to a “much wider conflagration“, referring to the shooting on the border between Israel and Lebanon and the attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

In northern Israel, a missile fired from Lebanon according to the Israeli military killed a foreign worker, rescuers said.

The Army claimed to have carried out attacks against two “military sites” of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah movement in southern Lebanon.

“The United States is convinced that a diplomatic solution is the only way to end hostilities” between Israel and Hezbollah, said Amos Hochstein, a US envoy who traveled to Beirut to try to reduce tensions.


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