Qatar negotiates a pause in the war in Gaza in exchange for the release of some hostages | International

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The release of a group of hostages of the 240 that Hamas kidnapped on October 7 in exchange for some type of relief in the Israeli offensive on Gaza is beginning to take shape. After 33 days of captivity, Qatar's mediation with the Islamist organization that governs Gaza and contacts with the United States and Egypt are about to bear the most solid results so far with the release of between 10 and 15 detainees, say the France Presse and Reuters agencies. The agreement could even reach this Thursday, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

In exchange, Israel would have to suspend its attacks on the Strip for a period of between one and three days. “We have come a long way. We have not yet reached the goal, but unlike previous conversations, there is optimism,” added a source in the negotiations to the Israeli newspaper, adding the fact that half of those released will have a US passport. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to reports of a possible agreement as “rumors” and insisted that there will be no ceasefire without the release of hostages.

The objective is to facilitate humanitarian aid entering the Strip, governed by Hamas, more fluidly than until now, across the border with Egypt and, at the same time, for Israel to recover some of those kidnapped. Until now it was thought that among them was the Spaniard Iván Illarramendi Saizar, who was presumed dead this Wednesday. At the moment Hamas has only released four women (and a fifth, soldier Uri Magidish, was rescued by the Israeli army).

Hours before Netanyahu's words, despite the deep differences on how to act in the current war situation, the G-7 foreign ministers had defended from Tokyo these “humanitarian pauses” and “corridors.” Despite everything, neither Israel nor its main ally, the United States, support the most ambitious option of a ceasefire, which was left out of that joint agreement. Both believe that this would help the rearmament of Hamas.

While these negotiations are taking place, the war continues, with the north of the Strip as the center of hostilities. Israel, which claims to have already destroyed 130 Hamas tunnels, has shown images of thousands of people allegedly walking south through an open corridor for five hours. He estimates that this Wednesday alone there were 50,000. They flee, driven by threats and warnings from the army, which is fighting, according to the Israeli Minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant, in the very “heart” of Gaza City, the capital and main bastion of the fundamentalist militia.

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The Palestinian Red Crescent denounced that the Al Quds hospital, one of the largest in Gaza, has begun to reduce its operations in an attempt to rationalize the scarce fuel it has available. A convoy of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with material for different health centers, including Al Quds, was attacked on Tuesday in the capital, the organization itself denounced. UN Secretary General António Guterres said for his part that the high number of civilian deaths, more than 10,500, according to Gaza authorities, means that something is being done “clearly incorrectly,” in a new criticism of the Israeli response to the October 7 attacks.

Without specifying his plans for the medium and long term, Netanyahu has said that his desire is to control the security of Gaza indefinitely. That would not mean remaining within the enclave as until 2005, times in which the statements of some of the most radical members of the Ministerial Cabinet are reflected. The head of the Education portfolio, Yoav Kisch, understands that there is no the status quo unalterable and that they could reoccupy Gaza with settlements as before that year, according to statements on army radio. At the moment, it is the Minister of Environmental Protection, Idit Silman, who has given her approval, after the approval of the National Planning and Building Council, to the establishment of a new community called Hanon. It will be built seven kilometers from the Strip and in the area where Hamas committed its attacks, the newspaper reports Haaretz.

Some young people search for survivors in the rubble after an Israeli bombing, this Wednesday in Khan Younis.MAHMUD HAMS (AFP)

The future of Gaza

Something that much of the international community agrees on is that Hamas cannot continue to rule the Strip. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said from Tokyo that a “transitional period” will be necessary and calls for unity among the different factions under the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). He asks, in turn, that the enclave not be reoccupied by Israel after the war, that this country not reduce the territory of the Strip and that its population not be displaced. The solution, according to the head of American diplomacy, must “include the voices and aspirations of the Palestinian people” and “a Government led by the Palestinians and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority” in addition to taking into account the reconstruction of the Strip and the coexistence between two States.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, spoke out last Sunday for the first time on the matter and, during a meeting with Blinken in Ramallah, did not rule out the involvement of the ANP in the future of Gaza if a political solution is reached that also includes the West Bank. and East Jerusalem. US President Joe Biden, who spoke with Netanyahu on Monday, was in favor of humanitarian parentheses such as those demanded by the G-7 (USA, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan).

This group of countries – the most developed in the world – also warned of the danger posed by settler violence against Palestinians. So far this year, attacks have increased by 133% compared to the previous year, according to a report by around twenty Palestinian human rights organizations grouped in Al Haq, based since 1979 in Ramallah (capital of the West Bank).

Netanyahu met this Wednesday in occupied Palestine with those responsible for the settlers, who number more than half a million mainly occupy illegal colonies in the West Bank. He said there are a “handful” of them who are acting on his behalf and he will act against them. There is no shortage of criticism for holding this meeting earlier than scheduled on Friday with those responsible for the communities attacked by Hamas next to Gaza on October 7, the trigger for the current war, when there were some 1,400 deaths. The prime minister's office stated that Netanyahu has already had some meetings and telephone conversations with them over the past few weeks.

A street in Tulkarem (West Bank), last Sunday after attacks by the Israeli army.
A street in Tulkarem (West Bank), last Sunday after attacks by the Israeli army.Alvaro Garcia

The G-7 demands in its statement “support for humanitarian pauses [en los bombardeos de Israel en Gaza] to facilitate urgently needed aid, the movement of civilians and the release of hostages.” He also condemns the “increased violence by extremist settlers against Palestinians,” something “unacceptable” that “undermines security in the West Bank and threatens prospects for lasting peace,” he reports. Maria R. Sahuquillo.

Despite the differences between the members of the G-7 - Washington's unwavering support for Israel in the face of calls for a ceasefire from European countries - the heads of diplomacy of this group of States have managed to produce a unanimous text. in which they condemn the “terrorist” attacks by Hamas on October 7 and defend “the right of Israel to defend itself and its population in accordance with international legality to prevent a repetition” of what is considered the worst attack of that type in the history of Israel. At the same time, they call for “acting urgently” to help civilians trapped in the Strip. In relation to the tension in the Middle East, the statement by the G-7 foreign ministers also sends a message to Iran, which it urges to “refrain from offering support to Hamas and carry out further acts that destabilize” the area. , and to “use their influence” to “reduce regional tensions.”

Between the first day of the war and Monday, November 6, nine Palestinians were killed, at least one of them a child, and 62 were injured at the hands of settlers acting armed and often accompanied by members of the army or uniformed people. , denounces the text, which has been joined by twenty other Palestinian organizations. As for the number of deaths due to army actions, they amount to 147, of which 44 are children, and some 2,300 injured, the report adds. The settlers, Al Haq warns, are organizing through social networks to prevent the work of the Palestinians in the middle of the olive harvesting campaign in the olive groves. The case refers to the death of Bilal Saleh, a farmer from the West Bank town of Sawiya on October 28, shot by a settler, which EL PAÍS already reported.

Meanwhile, in the shadow of the current war, the Israeli Parliament approved on Wednesday in second and third reading an amendment to the current Anti-Terrorism Law to combat what the authorities consider the consumption of “terrorist content”, especially related to Hamas and the Islamic State. (ISIS, according to its acronym in English). Human rights organizations relate it to an attempt to restrict freedom of expression and persecute the Israeli Arab population, which makes up 20% of the country.

This is one of the “most intrusive and draconian measures ever approved,” says the Israeli human rights NGO in a statement, which is going to challenge it. He adds that this amendment “invades the realm of personal thoughts and beliefs and significantly amplifies state surveillance of the use of social networks.” The Supreme Court also rejected this Wednesday the petitions of the Hadash party and Adalah against the police order to prohibit demonstrations against the military operation in Gaza. Since October 7, hundreds of people have been arrested for posting on social media or participating in protest marches in solidarity with Gaza victims.

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