US call for ceasefire in Gaza welcomed

Henry

International mediators and Hamas representatives were in Cairo on Tuesday for talks on a possible cease-fire in Gaza in the run-up to Ramadan, the month during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.

Representatives of the Palestinian militant group and the US are expected to meet with Qatari and Egyptian mediators for a third day of negotiations on a six-week ceasefire, the release of scores of remaining hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners and humanitarian aid. to Gaza.

Delegates from Israel have so far not entered into negotiations, despite mounting diplomatic pressure to call for a halt to attacks before Ramadan.

Israeli media reports that that country’s mediators boycotted talks after Hamas failed to provide a list of living Israeli hostages.

However, senior Hamas leader Basem Naim told AFP that no details about Israeli hostages appeared in any documents or proposals circulated during the negotiation process.

Israel believes 130 of the 250 Israeli hostages taken prisoner by Hamas in October last year are still being held in Gaza, but that 31 have been killed.

As conditions in the besieged Palestinian territory worsen and famine increases, Israel is also increasingly coming under sharp criticism from its longtime ally, the US.

Vice President Kamala Harris said during talks with Benny Gantz, Israeli war cabinet member, on Monday that she was “deeply concerned about humanitarian conditions in Gaza”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said at the same time that members of an aid mission to two hospitals in Gaza came across horrific scenes where children died of hunger.

“The lack of food has led to the death of ten children,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said after the agency visited Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals at the weekend.

RNews reported earlier that horses had to be slaughtered, among other things, to feed children at the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Poverty due to high unemployment has also long been a huge problem for the more than 100,000 people there.

Now the food is running out and due to continued bombings and the frenzied looting of the few trucks that try to enter the area, relief teams’ hands have been cut off.

Unicef, the UN’s children’s agency, has warned that the alarming lack of food, rising malnutrition and disease could lead to an “explosion” in child deaths in Gaza.

One in six children under two in Gaza is acutely malnourished, it was estimated by mid-February. Residents now eat scraps of rotten corn, animal feed unfit for human consumption, and even leaves to quell the worst pangs of hunger.

Hamas defended its October 7 attacks on Israel, but at the same time called for an end to “Israeli aggression” in Gaza.

According to the latest figures, 30,534 people have already died in the war in Gaza, most of whom are women and children.