Sunday, May 19, 2024

No ceasefire deal without Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, return of displaced: Hamas

The Palestinian group Hamas has insisted that it will not agree to the release of any hostages without the Israeli army's complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes across the besieged enclave.

“There is no concession on the complete withdrawal (of the Israeli army from Gaza) and the free return of the displaced people to their areas across the Gaza Strip,” Izzat Al-Rishq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said in a statement on Monday.

“A permanent cease-fire is the only guarantee to protect our people and stop the bloodshed and massacres,” he added.

Al-Rishq warned that Israel seeks “a temporary (cease-fire) agreement” to free its hostages and then to resume “the war and genocide.”

On Saturday, Hamas announced it submitted its response to Egypt and Qatar on the proposed cease-fire in Gaza with Israel and reiterated its demands for a permanent cease-fire, the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced and allowing more humanitarian aid into the enclave.

Israel has killed more than 33,800 Palestinians since an Oct. 7, 2023 cross-border attack by Hamas in which some 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 250 hostages taken.

A previous deal in November saw the release of 81 Israelis and 24 foreigners in exchange for 240 Palestinians, including 71 women and 169 children.

The US, Qatar and Egypt have been since trying to broker an agreement to release the remaining Israeli captives.

The conflict has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.

Global calls for a cease-fire have been growing as the war has entered its seventh month.

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