Middle East: Gaza War: New attempt in the struggle for a ceasefire

While the US has begun airdropping food to desperate civilians in the Gaza Strip, joint efforts to mediate a ceasefire with Qatar and Egypt continue at full speed.

Middle East: Gaza War: New attempt in the struggle for a ceasefire

While the US has begun airdropping food to desperate civilians in the Gaza Strip, joint efforts to mediate a ceasefire with Qatar and Egypt continue at full speed.

According to information from the Egyptian television station Al Qahera News TV, the talks will continue in Cairo today. There are still obstacles for which the Israeli side is responsible, a representative of the Islamist Hamas in Beirut, who did not want to be named, told the German Press Agency that night. The main obstacle is the time limit for a possible ceasefire. Senior US government officials, however, said on Saturday that the framework for a possible agreement was in place and that the Israelis had "more or less accepted" it. The conclusion of an agreement now depends solely on Hamas.

UN Security Council calls for protection of civilians in Gaza

The UN Security Council called for the protection of civilians in the sealed-off coastal strip. "The parties were urged not to deny civilians in the Gaza Strip basic services and humanitarian support," said a UN statement published in New York on Saturday (local time). In their statement, council members expressed "grave concern" that Gaza's more than two million residents could face "alarming levels of acute food insecurity." Israel was asked to keep humanitarian border crossings open and to allow additional crossings to open.

The Gaza war was triggered by the terrorist attack by Hamas and other groups in southern Israel on October 7th last year. The terrorists killed 1,200 people in the unprecedented massacre and kidnapped 250 more as hostages in the Gaza Strip: Israel launched a military attack on the coastal area to crush Hamas. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, more than 30,000 Palestinians have died so far, although this number includes both civilians and fighters.

Hamas: Will be in Cairo for further talks

The Hamas official said they remained in contact with mediators and were committed to finding a solution "to end the aggression against our people." A separate delegation wants to take part in further mediation talks about a ceasefire in Cairo. According to the Egyptian television channel, Israeli representatives will also be there. However, the news portal "Axios" reported on Friday evening that Israel did not want to take part in a new round of talks brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the USA as long as Hamas did not provide a list of the hostages still alive. After 105 kidnapped people were released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a week-long ceasefire in November, Israel estimates that there are currently around 100 living hostages in the hands of Hamas terrorists.

Reports: US Vice President receives Israeli minister

According to media reports, the mediators suggested that a six-week ceasefire should, if possible, come into force before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins around March 10th. During this time, 40 Israeli hostages were to be exchanged for around 400 Palestinian prisoners. On Monday, Israeli Minister Benny Gantz, a member of the War Cabinet, is expected to hold talks with US Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House, as the New York Times reported on Saturday (local time). Harris is expected to speak with Gantz about the urgency of a hostage agreement that would allow a temporary ceasefire and the need for more aid to civilians in Gaza.

USA is preparing further drops of aid supplies

The humanitarian situation in the sealed-off coastal strip has been worsening dramatically for weeks. Representatives of the United Nations recently warned in the Security Council of the starvation of thousands of civilians. US military transport planes dropped around 38,000 meals on Saturday, according to the US military's regional command. It was a joint operation with the Jordanian Air Force. Plans were underway for further such operations. The aid dropped may alleviate the need somewhat, especially in areas that are difficult or impossible to reach with aid deliveries by land, such as northern Gaza. However, UN organizations point out that the quantities that can be delivered through airdrops are rather small.

WHO chief outraged by reports of attack in Rafah

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has reacted angrily to reports of the deaths of several Palestinians in a suspected Israeli airstrike on the southern Gaza town of Rafah. These are “outrageous and unspeakable,” wrote Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Saturday on the X platform (formerly Twitter). The Hamas health authority had previously said that at least 11 Palestinians had been killed and another 50 injured. The information could not be independently verified.

The WHO chief now wrote that two health care workers were among those killed. Health workers and civilians must be protected at all times. “We urge Israel to cease fire.” Israel's military announced in the evening that the army had attacked a group of fighters from the Islamic Jihad militia, which is allied with Hamas. This, too, could not be independently verified. In Rafah, around 1.5 million people currently live in a very small space. Most of them are refugees who have fled the fighting from other parts of Gaza.

Israel's military: Hezbollah positions in Lebanon attacked again

Meanwhile, the Israeli military says it has again attacked positions of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon. Warplanes hit two Shiite militia military installations in the Labuneh area and another installation in the Ramyah area, the army said on Saturday evening. In the past 48 hours, the army had killed “a total of ten terrorists,” including a commander, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in the evening. The information could not initially be independently verified. Since the beginning of the Gaza war, there has been repeated shelling in the border region with Lebanon. There were already deaths on both sides. Tens of thousands of residents in both countries left their homes because of the fighting. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant recently announced that he would increase military pressure on Hezbollah in response to its daily attacks on Israel until it withdraws from the border.