Ceasefire Talks Stalled in Gaza as US Shifts Blame to Hamas

Last Updated on March 8, 2024 8:36 am

Despite four days of mediated talks by Qatar and Egypt to establish a 40-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, negotiations have shown no signs of progress. Both parties engaged in blame-shifting, accusing each other for the lack of agreement, raising concerns about potential violence escalation during the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Hamas abruptly left the ceasefire talks in Cairo, where no breakthrough was achieved just days before Ramadan’s onset. The absence of an Israeli delegation complicated the negotiations. Talks, lacking Israeli representation, are set to resume on Sunday, coinciding with the beginning of Ramadan, according to Egyptian security sources.

Senior US administration officials pointed the finger at Hamas, asserting that the onus is on the Palestinian group to finalize a deal concerning Israeli hostages. The delay is attributed to Hamas’s alleged refusal to release sick and elderly hostages. In response, a Hamas official accused the United States of being in partnership with Israel and insisted on a ceasefire that includes a pathway to end the entire conflict.

Hamas stated that the delegation left Cairo to consult with its leaders, emphasizing ongoing efforts to stop aggression, facilitate the return of displaced individuals, and bring relief aid to the Palestinian people. Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of thwarting efforts to reach a ceasefire deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated the intention to continue the military campaign in Gaza, initiated after Hamas’ October 7 attack on southern Israel, claiming 1,200 people were killed and 253 abducted. Israel aims to destroy Hamas and insists on a temporary ceasefire, demanding a list of hostages still held by the Palestinian group.

The proposed ceasefire deal requires Hamas to release some hostages, with a corresponding release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. Hamas insists on a ceasefire before releasing hostages, demanding the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and the return of displaced Gazans.

News of the failed negotiations prompted despair in Gaza, already in a deep humanitarian crisis after five months of war. Civilian casualties continue to rise, with reports of one Palestinian killed and several wounded by Israeli gunfire during an aid distribution event.

In response to the humanitarian situation, US officials announced President Joe Biden’s plan to construct a port on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast for receiving humanitarian assistance by sea. Airdrops of food and aid continue in the north of Gaza, where a significant population is on the brink of famine.

Netanyahu vowed to press on with Israel’s offensive, including into Rafah, while Hamas called on Palestinians to increase visits to the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan to pressure Israel into agreeing to ceasefire demands. Negotiators aim for an accord before Ramadan, fearing potential violence at the third holiest shrine in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Israel stated it would allow a similar level of access as in previous years, without providing specific figures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *