40 days after Hamas' terrorist attack on Israel, negotiations over the hostages kidnapped in the Gaza Strip are giving some hope. The release of at least 50 women and children and a three to five day ceasefire are being discussed, a person familiar with the negotiations told the German Press Agency.
In the US, President Joe Biden said he was “slightly hopeful” about the hostages being freed. In an unexpectedly unanimous vote, the UN Security Council urged Israel to impose ceasefires lasting several days.
Fighters from the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas from the Gaza Strip attacked Israel on October 7th and brutally killed around 1,200 people. At the same time, around 240 people were kidnapped as hostages. Israel then began airstrikes and a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip at the end of October. According to Palestinian information, more than ten thousand people were killed.
According to the UN, the supply situation is catastrophic. Israel is also under international pressure for its conduct of the war - especially since an attack on the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip - the Shifa Clinic. Israel said it discovered weapons, computers and military equipment there. How significant this find was initially remained unclear. The information from the war zone can rarely be independently verified anyway.
Israel's military reports Hamas control centers in clinic
According to its own information, the Israeli army found Hamas command and control centers in the Shifa complex. A military representative left it unclear what this actually meant. It is also unclear whether the army discovered the command center of the Palestinian Islamist organization suspected to be under the hospital. Hamas denies the existence of such a base beneath the clinic.
According to their own statement, Israel's armed forces also discovered information and film material that was supposed to show hostages on computers and other devices in Shifa Hospital. The material is now being checked. In addition to weapons, intelligence material about the massacres on October 7th was also found. According to the information, Israeli special forces are still deployed in the clinic. Hundreds of patients and staff are still there.
Is a hostage deal brewing?
Despite the bitter fighting - Hamas also repeatedly fires rockets at Israel - the release of the hostages is being negotiated. This also involves more aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip and the release of an unspecified number of women and minors from Israeli prisons, dpa learned from the person familiar with the situation. Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, agreed to these points in principle.
Egyptian security circles also said that Hamas had agreed to a ceasefire lasting several days and the release of 50 women and children. In return, 75 Palestinian women and children were to be released. In addition, the delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip should increase to 200 truckloads a day and the daily import of fuel should be made possible.
US President Biden said in San Francisco: "I'm working on how I can help ensure that the hostages are released and that there is a period of time where there is a pause long enough to make that possible. " He spoke of cooperation with Qatar.
According to Israeli information, the youngest hostage kidnapped on October 7th was ten months old, with a total of 32 children. A pregnant woman gave birth to her baby under Hamas violence, wrote Sara Netanyahu, the wife of the Israeli prime minister, in a letter to American first lady Jill Biden. This suggests that Israel may know more about the fate of the prisoners than is publicly known.
USA waives veto in the Security Council
For the first time in a long time, the World Security Council managed to pass a resolution on the Middle East conflict. A resolution tabled by Malta calls for "urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days" to ensure humanitarian assistance. This came about because the USA waived a veto and abstained, as did Russia and Great Britain. Germany does not currently sit on the Security Council.
Israel rejects any longer humanitarian ceasefires as long as the hostages are held by Hamas. "Israel calls on the UN Security Council and the international community to resolutely demand the release of all Israeli hostages, as set out in the resolution," the State Department said. A spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said they regretted the Israeli government's response.
Israel takes control of Gaza port
From the war zone, the Israeli army reported that it had taken over "operational control" of the port of the city of Gaza in the northern Gaza Strip, which was previously controlled by Hamas. Local sources confirmed the takeover to the dpa.
Israel's army again called on civilians in several neighborhoods of the embattled city of Gaza to flee, setting a deadline of the afternoon. There have been similar calls for weeks. Hundreds of thousands have fled from the north to the south of the coastal strip. However, there were also several Israeli air strikes there.
Germany is the largest donor of humanitarian aid to Gaza
Germany is the largest humanitarian donor of aid in the Gaza Strip, according to Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Katharina Stasch. Stasch described the situation in the coastal area as dramatic.
Around 30 independent UN rapporteurs warned in Geneva of genocide in the Gaza Strip. They were referring to the Israeli bombings and the closure of the coastal strip after the Hamas attack.
During talks in Israel, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell clearly called for more to be done to protect the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. “One horror does not justify another,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.