Israel-Hamas war, day 148: accelerated negotiations for a truce, airdrops of humanitarian aid over Gaza… What you need to know

After almost five months of war, which left more than 30,300 dead in the Gaza Strip, and while Qatar, the United States and Egypt are trying to extract a truce agreement from Israel and Hamas, the he Israeli army continued its bombings of the Gaza Strip on Saturday March 2, notably on Khan Younes and Rafah, in the south of the Palestinian enclave

Israel-Hamas war, day 148: accelerated negotiations for a truce, airdrops of humanitarian aid over Gaza… What you need to know

After almost five months of war, which left more than 30,300 dead in the Gaza Strip, and while Qatar, the United States and Egypt are trying to extract a truce agreement from Israel and Hamas, the he Israeli army continued its bombings of the Gaza Strip on Saturday March 2, notably on Khan Younes and Rafah, in the south of the Palestinian enclave.

Israeli strikes have killed at least 92 people in the past 24 hours, the Hamas health ministry said Saturday. According to him, at least eleven people were killed on Saturday, “and nearly 50 others injured, including children,” in a strike on a tent camp housing displaced people near a hospital in Rafah. Contacted by Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Israeli army said it was collecting information on the strike.

Images posted on social networks, the origin of which AFP was unable to independently verify, show several bleeding people lying on the road and rescuers caring for the injured. An AFP journalist on site saw injured people on stretchers being transported to another hospital in Rafah. Nearly 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority displaced by Israeli fighting and air raids in the rest of the besieged Gaza Strip, are crowding into the town at the southern tip of the enclave.

• Negotiations for a truce resume on Sunday in Cairo

A Hamas delegation was expected on Saturday in Cairo, where negotiations for a truce in Gaza are due to resume on Sunday, said a source close to the Palestinian Islamist movement, as well as the Egyptian channel Al Qahera News, close to Egyptian intelligence.

Qatar, the United States and Egypt are trying to secure an agreement between Hamas and Israel, providing for a six-week truce associated with the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. On February 25, Egyptian, Qatari, American, Israeli technocrats and Hamas cadres discussed in Doha and Cairo announced that the country would host the next round. The American President, Joe Biden, had expressed his “hope” at the start of the week regarding the signing of an agreement by the start of Ramadan, before qualifying his intervention.

Around 250 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza during Hamas's unprecedented Oct. 7 attack in Israel that left 1,160 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally from official Israeli data.In retaliation, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas and launched a vast ground and air offensive that left more than 30,300 dead in Gaza, the vast majority civilians, according to the Hamas health ministry. .

• “The ball is in Hamas’ court,” according to Washington

On Saturday, a senior American official, for his part, assured, on condition of anonymity, that Israel had "more or less" agreed to a truce and that now "the ball was in Hamas' court" for it comes into force.

The current agreement would provide for a "six-week ceasefire [which] could begin today in Gaza if Hamas agrees to release a well-defined category of vulnerable hostages," he said , while specifying that, for the moment, “discussions continued”.

According to the source close to the Islamist movement, who spoke to AFP, cited above, the agreement carried by Hamas also requires the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip, the return to the north of the territory displaced Gazans and the entry of humanitarian aid for the population threatened with famine, as part of negotiations on a truce.

In Israel, nearly 15,000 people also arrived in Jerusalem on Saturday following a four-day march intended to pressure the Israeli government to reach an agreement with Hamas on the release of the hostages detained in Gaza.

• First airdrops of American humanitarian aid

The United States on Saturday carried out a first airdrop operation of humanitarian aid on the Gaza Strip, threatened with famine according to the United Nations. Three US military planes dropped 66 “packages” equivalent to more than 38,000 meals, in a joint operation with Jordan, according to an official with the US Middle East Military Command (Centcom).

The American operation comes two days after Israeli soldiers fired on a hungry crowd who rushed into a humanitarian aid convoy in Gaza City, a tragedy which left 116 dead, according to the Palestinian Islamist movement. Faced with the difficulties in transporting humanitarian aid by road, particularly to the north of the besieged territory, several countries have recently parachuted cargoes, notably Jordan with the support of France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as as Egypt, in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates.

Humanitarian aid drops on Gaza “cannot replace the necessary entry of assistance by as many land routes as possible,” however, declared a senior American official on Saturday during an interview with the press. Another official said the United States was also considering aid deliveries by sea.