Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again rejected the possibility of a ceasefire in Gaza. This comes in the midst of reports indicating negotiations for a temporary truce with Hamas.
A source close to Hamas had previously mentioned that talks were in progress for the release of a dozen hostages, including six Americans, held by the Islamist group in exchange for a three-day ceasefire in Gaza.
Netanyahu firmly stated, “I’d like to put to rest all kinds of false rumours we’re hearing from all kinds of directions, and reiterate one clear thing: there will be no ceasefire without the release of our hostages.”
The reported pause in fighting is said to be brokered to allow Egypt an extended period to deliver humanitarian aid and facilitate the release of the 12 hostages. However, there is some disagreement surrounding the timeframe and the ongoing combat operations in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Additionally, a separate source familiar with the negotiations mentioned that Qatar is mediating the talks in coordination with the United States to secure the release of “10-15 hostages in exchange for a one- to two-day ceasefire.”
The conflict in Gaza has persisted for over a month following Hamas’ attack on October 7, which resulted in the loss of over 1,400 lives, primarily civilians, and the taking of 239 hostages, according to Israeli authorities.
In response, Israel has launched a military campaign to dismantle Hamas, resulting in the deaths of 10,569 people in Gaza, mainly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory.
Qatar has been actively engaged in diplomatic efforts to secure the release of individuals held by Hamas. It recently negotiated the handover of four hostages, including two Israelis and two Americans.
In response to the ongoing negotiations, the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum emphasized the importance of the release of all hostages from Gaza for any steps towards a ceasefire.
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Qatar, home to the political office of Hamas, has been a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and maintains open communication channels with Hamas, which governs Gaza. The Gulf state has expressed its concern over the escalating violence in Gaza and called for de-escalation despite challenges posed by Israeli actions.
The G7, a group of economically advanced nations, has called for “humanitarian pauses and corridors” in the conflict but refrained from explicitly calling for a ceasefire during their discussions in Japan.