Negotiations for a truce in the Gaza Strip suspended, Hamas delegation leaves Egypt

The Hamas delegation dispatched to Egypt on Sunday for discussions with a view to a truce in the Gaza Strip “left Cairo” on Thursday, March 7, affirming that Israel’s position did not meet its “minimum requirements

Negotiations for a truce in the Gaza Strip suspended, Hamas delegation leaves Egypt

The Hamas delegation dispatched to Egypt on Sunday for discussions with a view to a truce in the Gaza Strip “left Cairo” on Thursday, March 7, affirming that Israel’s position did not meet its “minimum requirements.” .

“The Hamas delegation is leaving Cairo” for “consultations” with the leadership of the movement in Doha, Qatar, a senior official of the Palestinian Islamist movement participating in the discussions and having requested told Agence France-Presse (AFP). anonymity. “We are still awaiting the final official response from the enemy” but “the initial responses do not meet the minimum requirements” relating in particular to a definitive ceasefire and a withdrawal of Israeli troops, he continued. “Mediators will decide when negotiations will resume. »

Given the humanitarian disaster and the scale of civilian losses, the United States, Qatar and Egypt are trying to reach an agreement for a break in the fighting before Ramadan, which will begin early next week. Representatives of the three countries have been negotiating with the Hamas delegation since Sunday for a six-week truce.

“The decision is in the hands of Washington”, which must decide “if it really wants to put pressure on [Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin] Netanyahu, and his government to reach an agreement”, underlined Mahmoud Mardaoui, on behalf of Hamas. “If Israel is serious and does not procrastinate, it is possible to reach a ceasefire agreement before the start of Ramadan,” Sunday or Monday, he told AFP. For his part, the United States Ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew, estimated that the negotiations “are not broken” and that the “differences are fading.”

The Israeli bombardments, which continue without respite, have caused the deaths of eighty-three people in the Gaza Strip in twenty-four hours, according to the Hamas health ministry.

Silent deaths

In the enclave under total siege, famine threatens 2.2 million people, according to the United Nations (UN), the vast majority of the population. Humanitarian aid, subject to Israeli agreement, only comes in trickles, mainly from Egypt. The situation is particularly serious in the north, where looting, fighting and destruction make the delivery of aid to around 300,000 residents almost impossible.

“This horror must stop now. A humanitarian ceasefire cannot wait,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on social network X on Wednesday.

According to the Hamas health ministry, at least twenty civilians, most of them children, died of malnutrition and dehydration. “We believe that dozens of people are silently dying of hunger without reaching hospitals,” said Ashraf Al-Qudra, a ministry spokesperson.

The war was sparked on October 7 by an attack of unprecedented scale by Hamas commandos infiltrated from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, which claimed the lives of at least 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data.

In retaliation, the Jewish state vowed to “annihilate Hamas”, in power in Gaza since 2007, which it considers a terrorist organization, as do the United States and the European Union. Its army launched a bombing campaign coupled with a ground offensive which has so far left 30,800 dead in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the latest report from the Hamas health ministry.

“Shame on civilization”

In recent days, the United States, Israel's main ally, has increased pressure on both camps, while China called Thursday for an "immediate ceasefire," calling the war in Gaza a "shame." for civilization.”

The Cairo discussions – in which Israel is not participating – also focus on the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip in exchange for Palestinians detained by Israel, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid. As a prerequisite for an agreement for the release of the hostages, Hamas is demanding a definitive ceasefire, a withdrawal of Israeli troops, the reconstruction of the territory and the return of hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians to their homes. Israel rejects these conditions and assures that its offensive will continue until the movement is eliminated. To achieve "total victory", the Israeli army is preparing a ground offensive in Rafah, in the far south of the Gaza Strip, where nearly a million and a half Palestinians are massed, according to the United Nations.

Israeli tanks left the center of Khan Yunis, a few kilometers north of Rafah, this week, leaving behind immense destruction after weeks of fighting. According to witnesses, fighting continued Thursday in the north, in Zeitoun, a sector of Gaza City, and in the south, in Al-Shouka, a village near Rafah, as well as in the western part of Khan Younes.

Due to difficulties with land supplies, several countries, including the United States, Jordan and France, have parachuted aid into the north of the enclave, a solution deemed insufficient and dangerous by humanitarian organizations. The UN Security Council is due to meet once again on Thursday behind closed doors to discuss the situation.