Diplomatic Breakthrough? Israel Ready to Suspend Gaza War Over Ramadan, Awaiting Hostage Exchange

27-02-2024

In a recent declaration, United States President Joe Biden articulated that Israel is poised to suspend its military operations against Hamas in Gaza for the duration of the forthcoming Ramadan, conditional upon reaching an accord for the liberation of hostages currently held by the militants.

 

The negotiations, which are being spearheaded by the United States in collaboration with Egypt and Qatar, aim to forge a preliminary agreement. Under this proposed arrangement, Hamas would release a portion of the hostages in its custody. In reciprocation, Palestinian detainees would be freed by Israel, and a ceasefire spanning six weeks would be instituted. This hiatus in hostilities is intended to provide a window for continued diplomatic efforts focused on securing the freedom of the remaining hostages.

 

President Biden's remarks, which were made public in the early hours of Tuesday, have yet to elicit an official response from Israeli officials.

 

The advent of Ramadan, expected to commence around March 10, is perceived as a pivotal juncture for solidifying a ceasefire. Ramadan, a period marked by intensive spiritual reflection and daylight fasting, is observed by millions of Muslims globally.

 

President Biden expressed optimism on Monday, during his appearance on NBC's Late Night With Seth Meyers, that a ceasefire could be operational by the subsequent week. He underscored the agreement by Israeli authorities to abstain from military actions during Ramadan, facilitating the ongoing negotiations aimed at releasing all hostages.

 

While advocating for a temporary cessation of hostilities, President Biden refrained from calling for an outright conclusion to the conflict, which was ignited by a deadly assault by Hamas on southern Israel on October 7.

 

He also did not foreclose the possibility of an Israeli ground incursion into Rafah, a city in southern Gaza adjacent to Egypt. This potential operation looms amid concerns over the welfare of Gaza's civilians, particularly in Rafah, where a significant segment of Gaza’s 2.3 million populace has sought refuge following Israeli evacuation directives.

 

The international community watches with bated breath as the specter of a ground offensive in Rafah stirs fears for the safety of civilians ensnared in the conflict zone. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has characterized such an operation as a crucial facet of Israel's overarching strategy to neutralize Hamas.

 

In his Monday discourse, President Biden noted a perceived moderation in Israel's bombardment of Rafah, highlighting Israeli commitments to facilitate evacuations from the city prior to executing targeted strikes against Hamas. This strategy, according to President Biden, is part of a phased approach to the ongoing military engagement in Gaza.

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