A four-day ceasefire in Gaza agreed by Israel and Hamas, is ‘a band-aid that will be ripped off a bleeding wound after four days’
A four-day ceasefire and a hostage exchange has been agreed between Israel and Hamas, in a deal brokered by Qatar mediators and ratified by the Israeli cabinet on Wednesday evening. It will come into effect 24 hours later on Thursday morning. Oxfam’s Head of Policy and Advocacy has referred to it as:
‘a welcome respite for the delivery of some humanitarian aid – but no more than that…a band-aid that will be ripped off a bleeding wound after four days’
Hamas has agreed to coordinate the release of 50 of the estimated 237 Israeli captives seized during the incursion into Southern Israel on 7th October, in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian women and children held mostly without charge in Israeli jails, access for the provision of humanitarian aid as well as a pause in the conflict. Details of the deal, which have been so far released, suggest that up to 10 Israeli captives will be released daily on a drip basis, over the period of the ceasefire. Israel has indicated that it will provide an additional day of pause for every 10 further captives released. Under the deal, as many as 300 trucks of aid, including fuel will be permitted to enter the strip on each of the days of ceasefire.
300 Trucks of humanitarian aid a day in not enough - the people are starving
It is worth noting that in the period before the latest conflict began, it was normal for as many as 500 aid trucks a day, excluding fuel trucks, to cross the border. This number of trucks was already seen as insufficient to supporting the needs of the besieged population of the Strip – almost entirely dependent on humanitarian support as a vital lifeline to population of 2.3 million residents. Many will see this move as simply averting the onset of starvation across the Gaza Strip, predicted last week by the UN.
Hospitals and ambulances need more fuel
Fuel remains an issue of consternation as Israel continues to regard the delivery of fuel as reinforcing Hamas capabilities. Humanitarian agencies have expressed the urgency for adequate supplies of fuel to be allowed in, which they say is essential to providing the power for vital equipment in hospitals, to keep ambulances moving and to pump water from the ground.
No access to Northern Gaza allowed
Crucially, Israel has agreed to cease flying drones for a six-hour window each day, which was probably meant to allow residents to look for family members in the rubble and amongst the dead, although Israel has insisted that no Palestinians will be allowed back into Northern Gaza during the ceasefire. This is also meant to ensure that Israel ceases to continue further intelligence gathering, during this period.
The war is far from over
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that the war was far from over and that it would continue until Hamas is destroyed. He added that Israeli forces would recommence the bombardment of Gaza as soon as the temporary pause comes to an end.
The Government of Israel is obligated to return home all of the hostages. Tonight, the Government has approved the outline of the first stage of achieving this goal, according to which at least 50 hostages — women and children — will be released over four days, during which a pause in the fighting will be held…the release of every additional ten hostages will result in one additional day in the pause’
The exact logistical details of the hostage swap exchange are yet to become clear, although it has been indicated that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are on standby to assist with coordinating the exchange.
A spokesperson for the ICRC, issued a statement which read:
‘Currently, we are actively engaged in talks with the parties to help carry out any humanitarian agreement they reach. As a neutral intermediary, it is important to clarify that we are not part of the negotiations, and we do not make decisions on the substance of it. Our role is to facilitate the implementation, once the parties agree’
France declares that truce agreement represents 'a moment of hope'
French President, Emanuel Macron, published a statement on social media, post the truce announcement, which read:
‘I welcome the announcement of an agreement for the release of hostages and a humanitarian truce. We are working tirelessly to release all hostages. The humanitarian truce announced should allow to introduce aid and rescue the civilians in Gaza’
200 West Bank deaths at the hands of settlers is 'unacceptable and unworthy of a democracy'
France’s Foreign Secretary, Catherine Colonna, speaking on a French radio station that the deal offered:
‘a moment of real hope… There have been too many deaths, we have been saying this for weeks’
In reference to the over 200 deaths in the Israeli-occupied West bank, at the hands of illegal settlers, she added:
‘This is unacceptable and unworthy of a democracy’
A spokesperson from the Kremlin in Russia, issued a brief statement saying simply:
‘first good news for a long time’
The news came as the latest death toll figures in Gaza released by the Health Ministry, confirm that 14,100 residents of the Gaza Strip have been killed since the commencement of hostilities on October 7th. These include 5,840 children and 3,920 women. Additionally, as many as 33,000 Palestinians have been injured in this period.
The truce is merely a 'band-aid that will be ripped off a bleeding wound after four days'
Katy Chakrabortty, Oxfam’s head of policy and advocacy, was perhaps a little subdued about the significance of the breakthrough: She published a statement, which read:
‘It would be an optimism to see this as the beginnings of a road toward a permanent ceasefire – but that looks distant without concerted diplomatic pressure.
This pause of the relentless bombing and destruction that is causing such suffering to more than 2 million Palestinians is a welcome respite for the delivery of some humanitarian aid – but no more than that.
The next four days will be eaten up by a desperate emergency effort that can offer only very limited relief, not equal to the size of suffering and destruction and ultimately with no sustainability. This is a band-aid that will be ripped off a bleeding wound after four days’
In her statement, she urged diplomatic efforts to push for:
‘tackling the core of the conflict: ending Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinian territory and the blockade on Gaza’
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