Hamas official speaks of big gaps with Israel in truce talks

AFP , Saturday 23 Mar 2024

Deep differences exist between Hamas and Israel in negotiations for a Gaza truce, an official from the Palestinian resistance group with knowledge of the talks told AFP on Saturday.

A young Palestinian checks the damage inside a home hit by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 22, 2024. AFP


The difficult talks over a ceasefire and possible prisoner-captive exchange resumed in Doha this week, with Israel's spy chief joining Egyptian, Qatari and US mediators.

"There is a deep divergence in positions in the negotiations between Hamas and the occupation (Israel) because the enemy understood the flexibility shown by the movement as weakness," the official said.

The official added that "the enemy wants to reach a temporary ceasefire after which it can resume its aggression against our people."

Israel "refuses to agree on a comprehensive ceasefire and refuses the complete withdrawal of its forces from Gaza," the official said.

The official added that Israel had indicated it wanted to keep matters of relief, shelter and aid under its control, and demanded "the United Nations not return to work, especially in the northern Gaza Strip".

Long strained ties between Israel and the United Nations have worsened as international outrage has built over the heavy civilian toll and humanitarian crisis caused by Israel's war on the Palestinian territory.

The return of Israeli captives held in Gaza has been a central question in the talks -- but the Hamas official did not offer any comment on the issue.

Palestinian resistance fighters seized about 250 Israeli and foreign captives during an offensive into Israel on 7 October, but dozens were released during a week-long truce in November.

Hamas seeks to exchange the captives for thousands of Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails, including many women and children unjustly detained without fair trial.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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