United States Announces Israel’s Acceptance of Gaza Ceasefire Framework; Hamas Faces Decision

Credits: Fair Observer

A senior official from the U.S. administration revealed on Saturday that Israel has tentatively agreed to the terms of a proposed ceasefire and hostage release agreement with Gaza, with the ball now in Hamas’s court to accept the deal.

This announcement came ahead of negotiations set to resume on Sunday in Egypt, as international mediators strive to halt hostilities before the onset of Ramadan around March 10.

The agreement aims to not only pause the conflict but also facilitate the delivery of aid to the numerous Palestinians in northern Gaza facing severe hardship.

The proposed deal, accepted “more or less” by Israel, entails a six-week ceasefire and the release of vulnerable hostages by Hamas, including the sick, wounded, elderly, and women.

Israeli Soldiers (Credits: The Economist)

The U.S. official, who remained anonymous following protocol, emphasized the urgency of Hamas’s agreement to the terms to alleviate the crisis.

Immediate responses from Israeli and Hamas representatives to the announcement were not available. However, a senior Egyptian official indicated that Egypt and Qatar, the mediators, anticipate Hamas’s response during the Cairo discussions.

The conflict has severely impacted northern Gaza, prompting international concern over the potential famine threat to hundreds of thousands. The U.S., Jordan, and Egypt have initiated airdrop operations to deliver thousands of meals to the beleaguered region.

Amidst this crisis, the European External Action Service called for an international probe into the casualties among Palestinians during an aid convoy incident, pointing to Israeli military actions as the cause.

The dire situation in Gaza has led to extreme food shortages, with residents resorting to desperate measures for sustenance.

Gaza’s Health Ministry reports the Palestinian death toll at 30,320, with children and women constituting a significant portion of the casualties. An Israeli airstrike in Rafah exacerbated the situation, leading to further deaths and injuries.

The conflict has decimated large areas of northern Gaza, prompting mass displacement. With acute malnutrition rates soaring, particularly among children, the region faces an imminent famine threat, according to Carl Skau of the World Food Program.

The chaos surrounding aid delivery has highlighted the desperate struggle for food, with recent violence during an aid convoy resulting in numerous casualties.

Survivors of these incidents shared harrowing accounts of their experiences, underscoring the dire need for effective aid delivery and a lasting resolution to the conflict.

U.S. President Joe Biden mentioned exploring additional avenues, including a marine corridor, to facilitate aid delivery, while the European Union stressed the necessity of opening more ground crossings into Gaza.

A brief ceasefire in late November had previously allowed for the exchange of hostages and a temporary halt in fighting, showcasing the potential for negotiated peace and humanitarian relief.

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