War in the Middle East: Hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas becomes more concrete

A good six weeks ago, the Islamist Hamas kidnapped around 240 people in the Gaza Strip in its terrorist attack on Israel. Now there could be an agreement with Israel, including a break in fighting.

A possible exchange of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners in Israel took more concrete form on Tuesday. According to the Islamist Hamas, an agreement also calls for a five-day break in fighting and the entry of hundreds of trucks carrying aid supplies into the Gaza Strip.

Both sides have come much closer to an agreement on a ceasefire and hope that this will happen soon, Izzat al-Rishk, a member of the Hamas Politburo, told Al-Arabi, according to the Hamas Telegram channel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told soldiers: “We are currently making progress. I don’t think it is necessary to deepen the issue (…), but I hope there will be good news soon.”

Specifically, according to Israeli media reports, more than 50 of the approximately 240 hostages abducted from Israel on October 7th are expected to be released. As the Israeli news site Ynet reported, citing senior officials, these include children and women. Israel could agree to a ceasefire lasting several days in order to release the hostages. In return, Israel will reportedly release 300 female and minor Palestinian prisoners from prisons.

According to information, the civilians held in the Gaza Strip are to be released gradually – ten people every day. The release of Palestinian prisoners should therefore also take place gradually.

The deal also reportedly allows 300 trucks carrying food, medical supplies and fuel to enter the Gaza Strip. Hamas said it had agreed to the agreement.

Hamas kidnapped around 240 people in the Gaza Strip and killed 1,200 people in its unprecedented terrorist attack on Israel. The Israeli army has now moved into the coastal strip with thousands of soldiers – with the aim of disempowering and destroying the Islamist terrorist organization.

Consent is considered probable

In Israel, the government’s approval of an agreement is considered likely. Since a change in the law in 2014, a yes from the entire cabinet has been necessary for a prisoner exchange. Accordingly, early release of prisoners is only possible under strict conditions, for example if it serves national security or is part of a foreign policy agreement.

It is unclear whether an agreement will be announced immediately after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening. A government spokesman said families of affected terror victims could still file an objection. “Under Israeli law, the families of victims of terrorists who are in Israeli prisons and have blood on their hands have the right to appeal their release to the Supreme Court within 24 hours,” the spokesman said.

Biden: “Very close” to hostage agreement

US President Joe Biden expects hostages in the Gaza Strip to be released soon. Biden said in Washington that they were “very close” to an agreement. “So we could bring some of these hostages home very soon. But I don’t want to go into details.” Biden warned, however, that nothing is achieved until it is actually achieved. But at the moment things are looking “good”.

National Security Council communications director John Kirby said they were working “very, very hard” to secure his release. Everyone is “hopeful.” At this sensitive time, nothing will be said that could jeopardize an agreement. You have to be very careful with it. They had already come close to an agreement once, but then failed to “get over the finish line”.

Another 25,000 people are fleeing south of Gaza

In the Gaza Strip, it is estimated that another 25,000 people fled from the north to the south on Monday. Thousands had to camp outdoors despite heavy rain because the emergency shelters there were overcrowded, according to the UN emergency agency OCHA. Many people settled with their few possessions in front of and next to the refuges in the hope of being relatively safe there and getting food and drinking water.

Another rocket alarm in the north and center of Israel

Extremist Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have again fired rockets into central Israel. The Israeli army said there was an alarm in the city of Rishon Lezion, southeast of Tel Aviv, as well as several other places. Dull explosions could be heard in the distance in central Tel Aviv.

In addition, rocket alarms were also triggered in the north. The army had previously reported that rockets were fired towards Israel from Lebanon. The military responded with shelling. There were initially no reports of injuries or damage.

More than 220 Germans are expected to leave the country

The Israeli army announced a four-hour tactical pause in combat for humanitarian reasons in a southern district of Rafah. The border crossing to Egypt of the same name is also located in the area.

According to Palestinian information, around 220 Germans should be able to leave the country via Rafah on Tuesday. A total of 224 names were listed under the Germany section on a corresponding list, many of which were marked as dual citizens. In total, around 370 people should be able to leave the country, including Swedes, Australians, Portuguese and French. Personnel and material for a planned field hospital also arrived via Rafah.

According to Unicef, there is a dramatic lack of water

According to the UN children’s fund Unicef, the water shortage in the Gaza Strip is reaching dramatic proportions. The risk of disease spreading is growing every day, said Unicef ​​spokesman James Elder. The World Health Organization (WHO) said there are already thousands of cases of chickenpox, diarrhea, respiratory and skin diseases. According to UNICEF’s latest estimates, there are still around 700,000 people in the north of the Gaza Strip.

Guterres against UN protectorate in Gaza

UN Secretary General António Guterres believes that the Gaza Strip should not become a United Nations protectorate after the end of the war. Instead, he called for a transition phase in which, among others, the USA and Arab states should be involved.

“Everyone must come together to create the conditions for a transition that will allow a strengthened Palestinian Authority to assume responsibility in the Gaza Strip and, on this basis, ultimately work decisively and irreversibly towards a two-state solution,” he said.

The Islamist Hamas violently seized power in the coastal area in 2007. A two-state solution envisages an independent state of Palestine coexisting with Israel.

dpa

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