Israel on board with Gaza peace deal - GulfToday

Israel on board with Gaza peace deal


A member of the Australian Palestinian community carries a placard during a protest in Sydney on Sunday. AFP

Israel has broadly accepted a ceasefire deal with Hamas, a senior US official said on Saturday, as the first American airdrops of humanitarian aid were carried out over war-ravaged Gaza.

The framework agreement envisages a six-week cessation of hostilities, which could begin immediately if the Palestinian group Hamas signs off on the release of the most vulnerable hostages it holds, the official told reporters on a call.

"The Israelis have more or less accepted it," the administration official said. "Right now, the ball is in the camp of Hamas."

The announcement came hours after US military cargo planes began airdropping humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.

The United Nations has warned of famine in Gaza, and more than 100 people were left dead earlier this week in a frenzied scramble for food from a truck convoy delivering aid, with Israeli forces opening fire on the crowd.

Saturday's drop, which included 38,000 meals, was conducted "to provide essential relief to civilians affected by the ongoing conflict," the US Central Command said.

Children are dying in hospitals in Gaza from dehydration and malnutrition. Picture used for illustrative purposes only.

A CENTCOM official told the media that the meals were made up of US military rations that did not contain pork, the consumption of which is prohibited by Islam.

Thirteen children have died at the Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza in the last three days from dehydration and malnutrition, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Doctors at the hospital said more were at risk of dying. "When a child is supposed to eat three meals a day and he only eats one, he obviously suffers from malnutrition, and all the diseases that come because of it," said Imad Dardonah.

Negotiators working around the clock

Negotiators from regional powers have been working around the clock to secure a Gaza truce by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in about one week.

"It will be a six-week ceasefire in Gaza starting today if Hamas agrees to release the defined category of vulnerable hostages... the sick, the wounded, elderly and women," the administration official said.

Hamas militants took about 250 hostages during their unprecedented cross-border attack on Israel on October 7, 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 31 whom Israel says are presumed dead. It was unclear how many of the remaining hostages are deemed vulnerable.

The United States hopes any truce would create space for a more enduring peace. A Hamas delegation was expected to fly to Cairo on Saturday for talks on a truce, a source close to the group told the media.

The administration official said a ceasefire would also allow a "significant surge" in humanitarian aid to Gaza, with airdrops not seen as a replacement for full-scale relief convoys.



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