Hamas Proposes New Six-Week Ceasefire In Gaza

International Desk

Published: 16 Mar 2024, 12:25 pm

IDF Detain A Palestinian Man Near The Damascus Gate As He Attempts To Attend The First Friday Prayer Of Ramazan At Al-Aqsa mosque. Photo: AFP

IDF Detain A Palestinian Man Near The Damascus Gate As He Attempts To Attend The First Friday Prayer Of Ramazan At Al-Aqsa mosque. Photo: AFP

Hamas has proposed a new six-week truce in Gaza and prisoner swap on Friday, a day after Pales­tin­ian president Mahmud Abbas appointed Moham­med Mustafa, a long-trusted adviser on economic affairs, as prime minister.

“The agreement is for a six-week ceasefire and a prisoner exchange,” a Hamas official said after weeks of so far fruitless mediation efforts, adding that the group would want this to lead to “a complete (Israeli) withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and a permanent ceasefire”.

On the other hand, 69-year-old Mustafa who has replaced Mohammed Shtayyeh now faces the task of forming a new government for the Palestin­ian Authority, which has limited powers in parts of occupied West Bank.

The White House welcomed the appointment, calling on him to deliver “credible and far-reaching reforms”. Mustafa has served as deputy prime minister for economic affairs, held a board seat at the Palestine Investment Fund and worked in a number of senior positions at the World Bank.

In Israel’s military offen­sive on Gaza Strip, at least 31,490 Palestinians have been killed and 73,439 wounded in past five mon­ths. Am­ong them, some 149 Palestin­ians were killed and 300 wou­nded in past 24 hours, according to the Palestin­ian ministry.

Describing the latest Hamas proposal for a ceasefire and prisoner swap as “unrealistic”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said a delegation would leave for Qatar to discuss Israel’s position on a potential agreement.

According to the proposal, Hamas would rel­ease about 42 Israelis during the truce in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, the Hamas official said. Between 20 and 50 Palestinians held in Israeli jails would be released per hostage — up from a previous proposal of a roughly 10-to-one ratio, according to a Hamas source in late February.

The latest proposal appears to be a shift for Hamas, which said earlier this month there would be “no compromise” on its demand that Israel withdraw from Gaza before any more prisoners are freed.

The terms of an eventual ceasefire would see Israel’s “complete military withdrawal from the Gaza Strip” along with a prisoner swap.

“Egypt and Qatar, along with the US, are responsible for following up and ensuring the implementation of the agreement,” the Hamas official said.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces hit a food distribution centre of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in eastern part of Rafah.

A day later again, Israeli fire killed 20 people and wounded 155 at a roundabout where civilians were awaiting humanitarian aid, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

However, the Israeli military rejected the health ministry’s statement that Israeli soldiers were responsible for killing the civilians, and instead passed the blame on “armed Palestinians”._DAWN

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