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National | Gaza war

Israeli government agrees to ceasefire; defends its war on Hamas

Updated

This afternoon the Israeli war cabinet agreed to a ceasefire deal with Hamas, which massacred many Israelis in a shocking attack on October 7, leading to war by Israel in retaliation, which has killed 13,000 people so far

More than 140 Israelis, many of them children, had been taken hostage by Hamas. Today the war cabinet agreed to a deal that would see 50 women and children hostages swapped for up to 150 Palestinians in Israeli jails during a ceasefire to start on Thursday. The deal is open to more hostages being handed over in return for the ceasefire extension though Hamas has said it cannot locate 10 of the children taken. The deal also allows aid to be delivered from Egypt.

As ceasefire talks in Qatar continued, the Israeli government earlier made a point of saying how disappointed it is by the response of humanitarian organisations and UN bodies to the massacre of October 7.

Today the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs held an online worldwide press conference presenting Israel’s case as its military continues attacking the Gaza Strip, where 13,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and 30,000 injured its retaliatory war began after October 7.

Nearly 884,000 internally displaced persons are sheltering in 154 installations in Gaza run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the agency says.

Israel says it is aiming to rescue the hostages taken on October 7 and destroy Hamas, a terrorist organisation, which is also the government in the Gaza Strip.

Talks are being held in Qatar, with a possible release of 50 women and children taken hostage by Hamas on October 7 in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails and a ceasefire.

Today the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs held an online worldwide press conference presenting Israel’s case as its military continues attacking the Gaza Strip, where many thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed or injured and entire areas wiped out. Israel says it is aiming to rescue the hostages taken on October 7 and destroy Hamas, a terrorist organisation, which is also the government in the Gaza Strip.

‘Not enough condemnation’

The ministry spokesperson, Lior Haiat, says support from the humanitarian world has not been forthcoming, especially for Israeli victims and hostages who have been impacted by this conflict.

“We are quite disappointed by the response by the humanitarian organisations and the UN bodies that have addressed the massacre of October 7,” Haiat says.

“We haven’t seen enough of a response or condemnation by the bodies of the humanitarian world. We feel that Israel has not received, and especially Israeli victims, hostages, have not received enough attention by those bodies.

“There have been many instances, recorded instances, that we’ve published and other bodies, both humanitarian and civil bodies, have published regarding the rape of women during the massacre of October 7. It hasn’t been addressed properly by the humanitarian bodies of the United Nations and others.

There are also around 240 Israeli kept hostage in Gaza. We’re hoping for their safety but we have no sign of life that has been confirmed by any international organisation. We’re asking for the humanitarian community, for the international community as well, to sound an alarm and raise a voice to protect Israeli citizens that are being held against their will inside of Gaza.”

Haiat argues Hamas is using innocent citizens as human shields including at schools, hospitals, and diplomatic organisations.

‘We’e fighting Hamas, not Gaza citizens’

“We’re not interested in occupying Gaza again, we’re interested in defeating Hamas and eradicating the terrorist body that is Hamas, and having a military or a defensive control of the life of Israeli citizens that live around Gaza. We’re not fighting the citizens of Gaza as well, we’re fighting Hamas. Hamas is using the citizens of Gaza as human shields. They’re going through a humanitarian catastrophe that is orchestrated by Hamas. Hamas is using schools, hospitals, and diplomatic organisations to hide and conduct their activities to act against the people of Israel.”

The Israeli government believes Hamas is using media to spread propaganda and cites the bombing of the Al-Ali Hospital on October 17 as an example. He says Islamic Jihad bombed the hospital, not Israel “but, unfortunately, the international media has believed Hamas in its first words minutes after the bombing, claiming that 500 people have been killed.”

“Israelis and Jews, Israeli diplomats, have been in danger around the world by the reports by Hamas. Jewish communities have been in danger. We have seen a rise in anti-Semitism around the world.

Haiat also says there have been posts on social media saying the massacre on October 7 had not happened.

Deliberate use of civilian infrastructre

Colonel Elad Goren, head of the Civil Affairs Department of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories also spoke at the online press conference.

“On October 7, Hamas-ISIS infiltrated Israel and attacked innocent civilians in their homes. Fourteen hundred people were murdered, raped, massacred. Two hundred and forty were kidnapped. That is the enemy that today we are facing,” Gren says.

“Hamas-ISIS cynically embeds its terrorist activities within, around, and beneath civilian infrastructure and facilities. This is a key part of its terrorist military strategy.

“However, we know that our war is with Hamas, not with the people of Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force has shared evidence of this in the Ren-Ci and the al-Shifa hospitals, as well as other locations, and the evidence clearly shows how Hamas uses the hospitals for its terrorist activities.”

Medical aid and resources have been distributed to the hospitals that have been used for terrorist activities, he says.

“Shifa Hospital, we have delivered humanitarian aid to the medical staff. We provided incubators and baby food, as well as fuel for generators, medicine, food and water. We have been working with the hospital staff and the international organisation to evacuate the hospital, including people who need assistance, that are not independent. As you know, yesterday premature babies were transferred to hospitals in Egypt.

Some pauses and medical help

“We will continue to do whatever we can to assist the evacuation efforts. The efforts at Shifa are part of our larger efforts to encourage people to move from the north to the south, from the north of Gaza Strip to the southern side of Gaza Strip. And Israel has set up evacuation routes that are open every day. In the past few days, hundreds of thousands of people have moved south, according to the UN reports.”

A major issue for the Israeli government is to determine who are residents and who are Hamas-ISIS members. Residents are being encouraged to flee south to escape the terror.

“We have also announced tactical pauses in certain areas to allow residents to move to the south. Through coordination between Israel, the U.S., Egypt, and the U.N., humanitarian aid is being brought into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing in Egypt. The aid includes water, food, medical supplies, and equipment for southern Gaza. Hundreds of tents have been brought to support the population. In terms of amounts, over 1,400 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have entered Gaza since October 21. Our security mechanisms have the capability and the capacity to significantly increase the number of trucks entering Gaza, dependent on the improvement of the U.N. and other international organisations’ logistics. It’s just a matter of logistics.”

“Last week, following a request from the United States Administration, and in coordination with the relevant security authorities, U.N. trucks transporting humanitarian aid from the Rafah crossings to the southern side of the Gaza Strip were refuelled. Medical equipment has also been airdropped by the Jordanian Air Force in coordination between us, the IDF, and them. Yesterday, Jordan also entered the field hospital into the southern side of Gaza Strip, and an evidence advance team from the UAE arrived into the Gaza Strip to work towards the establishment of an additional field hospital in the southern side of Gaza Strip”, Col Goren says.

“In terms of people being brought out from Gaza, through coordination between us, the U.S., Egypt, thousands of people holding foreign citizenship left the Gaza Strip after Hamas tried to prevent them from doing so. Over 300 patients requiring urgent medical care have been brought out so far. Over the past few days, dozens of healed and wounded Palestinians, mainly children, left Gaza to receive medical treatment in Egypt, in the UAE, and also in Turkey”, Goren says.

“Following the request by the U.S. and in accordance with the decision of the war cabinet, it was agreed to allow the entrance of two diesel tanks via the Rafah crossing through the U.N. for essential humanitarian infrastructures in Gaza Strip,” he says.