Israel and Hamas Negotiate a Ceasefire
On 22 November, Israel and Hamas had negotiated a four-day ceasefire, effective Friday morning (07:00 24/11/2023). This truce was initially meant to take place Thursday morning, but was delayed following last minute logistical concerns. This diplomatic effort was negotiated via mediators in Qatar, Egypt and the USA, with Majed al-Ansari, the spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of Qatar, announcing that both Israel and Hamas have exchanged lists of hostages to be released. Under this agreement, Israel is expected to release a total of 150 Palestinian prisoners and allow 300 trucks containing humanitarian aid into Gaza. Hamas, on the other hand would release 50 of at least 240 Israeli hostages – with 13 hostages being released in the first round. All hostages and/or prisoners being exchanged are confirmed to be women and children, with the Palestinians stemming from the West Bank. The success of this initiative may result in additional hostages being swapped, possibly extending the ceasefire up to ten days, according to initial reports. The Israeli government have suggested that a second phase could be implemented, with another 150 Palestinians being swapped for 50 Israelis. Tensions among the Israeli-Lebanon border have resulted in minor continued clashes between the two, although Hezbollah have also stated that they will join in the truce.
Israeli leader, Netanyahu has stated that this is not the end of the war – reducing hopes that these initiatives are the beginning of the end of this conflict. Israel has long maintained their intention to destroy Hamas, with Netanyahu stating again that Mossad have been ordered to take action against Hamas leaders – wherever they are. Additionally, IDF soldiers have released images of the Hamas tunnel networks, as they begin to occupy them as part of their broader occupation efforts. Nevertheless, the truce will prove beneficial for Hamas to reorganise following the active Israeli encirclement of Gaza. Heavy casualties have been reported within Gaza, Palestinian authorities estimate that 14,532 people have died since 7 October, including 6,000+ children. Furthermore, the Red Crescent have said that the evacuation convoy from Shifa Hospital is ‘still stranded’ due to Israeli ‘inspections of ambulances putting the lives of the wounded and patients at risk’.
"The European Commission will do its utmost to use this pause for a humanitarian surge to Gaza" – Ursula von der Leyen
This ceasefire, even if temporary, has allowed for humanitarian efforts to resume in Gaza. Ursula von der Leyen has suggested that aid deliveries are to be intensified, from a pledged 100 million euros in November. This aid money will be distributed between humanitarian organisations, focusing on water, sanitation, health, food and other essential items. Despite this, the amount of aid allowed into the Gaza Strip is still too low to completely meet humanitarian needs. Fortunately for the residents of the Gaza Strip, much aid has been pre-positioned approximately 45 kilometres from the Rafah Crossing at Egypt’s El-Arish Airport. These goods are now positioned in warehouses nearby, allowing for optimal logistical planning. All aid entering Gaza must go through the Rafah Crossing, meaning that much of the aid may be unable to enter Gaza City itself, which is being blockaded by Israeli Forces. Oxfam have criticised this as “a Band-Aid to a bleeding wound”.
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