Israel-Hamas resume indirect ceasefire talks

31 March,2024 07:28 AM IST |  Tel Aviv  |  Agencies

Israeli PM Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to send two mediatory delegations

Displaced Palestinian children play with kites in Rafah, near the border of Egypt. Pic/AFP

The indirect ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas are set to resume from Saturday in the Qatar capital Doha and the Egyptian capital, Cairo. Sources in the Israeli Prime Minister's office said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already agreed to send two separate delegations for resuming mediatory talks. The Doha delegation will be headed by Mossad Chief David Barnea while the team to Cairo will be led by the head of Shin Bet, Ronen Bar. Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to sources in his office, has agreed to sending these delegations, following pressure from the families of hostages and missing persons.

The Israeli side has pulled out of a negotiation deal last week after it denied many demands put forward by the mediators on behalf of Hamas. This includes a permanent ceasefire and releasing of several Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. Top sources in the Israel Defence Ministry said that Israel would never agree for a permanent ceasefire and also have reservations in releasing many Palestinian prisoners whose names were put forward by Hamas indirectly through the mediators.

The contention of Israel is that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has made significant strides in the war and that it was only a matter of time to eliminate Hamas. Last week in Doha, Israel agreed to release 700 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages. However, it pulled out of the negotiations following Hamas's demands for a permanent ceasefire.

Ships with second round of aid for Gaza depart from Cyprus

A three-ship convoy left a port in Cyprus on Saturday with 400 tons of food and other supplies for Gaza as concerns about hunger in the territory soar. World Central Kitchen said the vessels and a barge were carrying ready-to-eat items like rice, pasta, flour, legumes, canned vegetables and proteins that were enough to prepare more than 1 million meals. Also on board were dates, which are traditionally eaten to break the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

It was not clear when the ships would reach Gaza. An Open Arms ship inaugurated the direct sea route to the Palestinian territory earlier this month with 200 tons of food, water and other aid. The United Nations and partners have warned that famine could occur in devastated, largely isolated northern Gaza as early as this month. Humanitarian officials say deliveries by sea and air are not enough and that Israel must allow far more aid by road. The top UN court has ordered Israel to open more land crossings and take other measures to address the humanitarian crisis.

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