Israel-Hamas war

Senior Hamas leader says proposed amendments to Gaza ceasefire ‘not significant’

Reuters

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Senior Hamas leader says proposed amendments to Gaza ceasefire ‘not significant’

DAMAGED BUILDINGS. Palestinians walk among the rubble of damaged buildings, which were destroyed during Israel's military offensive, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, June 12, 2024.

Mahmoud Issa/Reuters

(1st UPDATE) A senior Hamas leader says his organization had demanded to choose a list of 100 Palestinians with long sentences to be released from Israeli jails as part of the amendments

The changes that Hamas has requested to a ceasefire proposal by the United States are “not significant” and include the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip, a senior leader in the group told Reuters on Thursday, June 13.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Hamas had proposed numerous changes, some unworkable, to the US-backed proposal, but that mediators were determined to close the gaps.

The US has said Israel has accepted its proposal, but Israel has not publicly stated that. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel will not commit to ending its campaign before Hamas is eliminated.

The senior Hamas leader said his organization had demanded to choose a list of 100 Palestinians with long sentences to be released from Israeli jails.

The Israeli document had excluded 100 prisoners with long sentences and restricted releases to only prisoners with sentences of less than 15 years remaining, the Hamas official said.

“There are no significant amendments that, according to Hamas leadership, warrant objection,” said the Hamas leader.

The group’s demands also include the reconstruction of Gaza; the lifting of the blockade, including opening border crossings; allowing the movement of people; and transporting goods without restrictions,” the senior Hamas leader said.

Months of talks

Negotiators from the US, Egypt, and Qatar have tried for months to mediate a ceasefire in the conflict – which has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians and devastated the heavily populated enclave – and free the hostages, more than 100 of whom are believed to remain captive in Gaza.

“Hamas could have answered with a single word: Yes,” Blinken said. “Instead, Hamas waited nearly two weeks and then proposed more changes, a number of which go beyond positions that it had previously taken and accepted.”

In its late Wednesday statement, Hamas said it had expressed its readiness to cooperate while Israel did not. Blinken’s stance was “a continuation of the American policy complicit in the brutal genocide against our Palestinian people.” The group said the US was providing political and military cover for Israel to press ahead with its assault on Gaza.

The US has said Israel has accepted its proposal, but Israel has not publicly stated this. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel will not commit to ending its campaign before Hamas is eliminated.

Major powers are intensifying efforts to defuse the conflict in part to prevent it spiralling into a wider Middle East war, with a dangerous flashpoint being the escalating hostilities along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

The fighting in Gaza began on October 7 when militants led by Hamas burst across the border and killed 1,200 Israelis and took more than 250 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel’s air and ground war since then has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry, displaced most of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million and devastated housing and infrastructure.

The head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday many people in Gaza were facing “catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions”, with over 8,000 children under five years old diagnosed and treated for acute malnutrition.

A UN inquiry found that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes early in the Gaza war, and that Israel’s actions also constituted crimes against humanity because of the immense civilian losses.

Israel continues assaults in Gaza

As diplomats sought a ceasefire deal, Israel continued assaults in central and southern Gaza that are among the bloodiest of the war.

Israeli forces stepped up air and tank bombardment on Wednesday night in Rafah and central Gaza, residents said. An Israeli air strike on a house in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp killed three people, medics said.

Residents earlier said Israeli forces pounded areas across Gaza on Wednesday as tanks advanced towards northern Rafah, which skirts the Egyptian border.

Palestinian health officials said six people were killed in an airstrike on Gaza City in the north, and one man had been killed by a tank shell in Rafah. – Rappler.com

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