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Israel-Gaza War: Hamas counteroffers a ceasefire proposal


Hamas has presented a set of conditions, which include the exchange of hostages for Palestinian inmates and the reconstruction of Gaza, as a response to an Israeli-supported ceasefire proposition.

The armed faction demands a complete departure of Israeli military troops and the cessation of hostilities after three consecutive 45-day periods of temporary ceasefire.

The offer is likely to be unpalatable to Israel's prime minister, who has called for "total victory" in Gaza.

The issue is whether finding a compromise to facilitate progress in the process is possible.

Hamas has provided a counteroffer in response to a ceasefire plan supported by Israel and the US and facilitated by Qatar and Egypt. The specific specifics of this proposal have not been disclosed to the public.

As per a preliminary version of the Hamas paper seen by the Reuters news agency, it proposes:

• During the first 45-day period, there would be a cessation of hostilities, and Israeli women hostages, males under 19, the elderly, and the ill would be released in return for Palestinian women and children who are now imprisoned in Israeli prisons. Israeli soldiers will retreat from densely populated areas in Gaza, and the process of rebuilding hospitals and refugee camps will begin.

•The second phase involves the exchange of the remaining male Israeli hostages for Palestinian inmates, as well as the total withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from Gaza.

• In the third and final step, both parties would exchange remains and corpses.

Additionally, the agreement would increase the distribution of sustenance and other assistance to Gaza. Hamas asserts that after discussions to terminate the conflict, the 135-day cessation of hostilities will have been completed will have been completed.

US President Joe Biden responded to the plan with lukewarm enthusiasm, describing it as "excessive". Secretary of State Anthony Blinken acknowledged that a significant amount of work is still to achieve a sustainable ceasefire. However, he emphasised the crucial nature of attaining a durable peace.

In November, a temporary cessation of hostilities lasting one week resulted in the release of around 100 captives in an exchange involving 240 Palestinian detainees.

Approximately 1,200 individuals lost their lives as a result of the Hamas assaults on southern Israel on October 7th of the previous year. The armed organisation is officially designated as a terrorist organisation by many Western nations, including the UK and US.

The conflict initiated by Israel in retaliation has resulted in the death of about 27,500 Palestinians and caused at least 65,000 injuries, as reported by the health ministry under Hamas control.

During an interview with Israel's Channel 13, a high-ranking Israeli official, they were told that some requests made by Hamas were not feasible. The authorities are now deliberating whether to decline the proposal or seek other terms.

Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains that the objective is a "complete triumph," Israeli authorities recognise that this outcome is still distant. Some even argue that it cannot be attained using military means.

Mr. Netanyahu's administration has received and is now "assessing" Hamas's counteroffer.

Prior to this, a high-ranking Hamas representative informed the BBC that the militant organisation had expressed a favourable perspective towards the plan supported by Israel. However, they requested some modifications to the reconstruction of Gaza and the repatriation of its inhabitants.

The United States, a prominent mediator in these indirect negotiations, continues the Israel-Hamas negotiations, seeing this process as the "optimal course of action" and exerting significant pressure on its Arab counterparts.

Their objective is to provide a continuous humanitarian pause, perhaps resulting in a truce and allowing for dedicated attention towards a more ambitious strategy for the post-war period.

Mr Blinken saw it as a very influential approach that would facilitate the reconstruction of Gaza, the establishment of a reformed Palestinian Authority, the ultimate creation of a Palestinian state, and the normalisation of ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

However, the primary objective of the Israeli force remains the eradication of Hamas battalions and the pursuit of Hamas commanders. Mr. Netanyahu, being well aware of his political longevity, is under pressure from conservative friends who threaten to dismantle his coalition if he makes any compromises.

The Israeli relatives of hostages are becoming more apprehensive about the destiny of their loved ones, especially after revelations that one-fifth of the remaining 130 captives in Gaza had perished.

The United States and its Arab allies are concerned about the increasing dangers of a broader regional conflict. Multiple international groups are issuing strong warnings about the escalating humanitarian crisis occurring in the Strip. Several clocks provide a loud ticking sound.

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