Saturday, May 25, 2024

Hamas criticizes Biden for linking Gaza cease-fire to captive swap

Hamas slammed US President Joe Biden for linking a Gaza cease-fire to the release of Israelis held hostages by the Palestinian group.

Biden said Saturday that a cease-fire in Gaza would be possible as soon as “tomorrow” if Hamas released Israelis in its captivity.

This position “is a regression from the results of the last round of negotiations, which led to our approval of a proposal drawn by mediators in Egypt and Qatar, with the US knowledge”, Hamas said in a statement.

Last week, Hamas, which is believed to be holding nearly 130 Israelis following its Oct. 7 cross-border attack, accepted a proposal drawn by Egypt and Qatar for a cease-fire in Gaza.

But Israel said the truce offer did not meet its key demands and decided to push ahead with an operation in Rafah, home to more than 1.5 million displaced people, to apply “military pressure on Hamas with the goal of making progress on freeing the hostages and the other war aims”.

Hamas noted it has shown flexibility during all rounds of negotiations to reach a cease-fire deal in Gaza.

“However, terrorist [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and his government rushed to overturn this path by launching their aggression on our people in Rafah, Jabalia, and Gaza,” it added.

“Biden’s position once again confirms the US bias towards the criminal policy” pursued by Israel and shows “its continued political cover and military support for the genocide waged against our people.”

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 76,600 others injured in a brutal Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip since the Hamas attack that killed nearly 1,200 people.

The Palestinian group demands an end to Israel’s ongoing military offensive on the Gaza Strip in return for any hostage swap with Tel Aviv.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). An interim ruling in January said it is “plausible” that Tel Aviv is committing genocide in Gaza, ordering it to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

South Africa on Friday asked the ICJ to order Israel to withdraw from Rafah as part of additional emergency measures over the war.

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