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War on Gaza: Israeli-Hamas ceasefire begins today

A four-day pause in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza will begin this morning and an exchange of hostages will follow hours later, the mediator, Qatar,…

A four-day pause in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza will begin this morning and an exchange of hostages will follow hours later, the mediator, Qatar, has confirmed. 

The ceasefire deal, facilitated by Qatar with help of Egypt and the United States, was due to take effect Thursday, but was delayed after a last-minute hitch.  

The ceasefire deal followed weeks of war in the Gaza Strip after Hamas fighters broke through the militarised Gaza border with Israel on October 7 in an attack. 

Israeli airstrikes and ground invasions had since then reportedly killed over 14,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and forced about 1.7 million Gazans to flee their homes. 

War on Gaza: Israel lied about bunker under Al-Shifah hospital – Palestine envoy

Israel, Hamas truce, hostage release delayed

The Israeli government had said about 1,200 of its nationals, mostly civilians, were killed and around 240 taken hostage. 

The “surprise operation” from Gaza came on the heels of the killing of four Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, widespread Israeli settler attacks, especially in Huwara, near Nablus and increased tensions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Hamas, the group running the besieged enclave, had explained that its surprise, large-scale operation was in response to the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and increased settler violence.

Confirming the four-day ceasefire at a press conference in Doha yesterday, Qatari Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Majed Al Ansari: “The pause will begin at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) on Friday… and the first batch of civilian hostages will be handed over at approximately 4:00 pm (1400 GMT).” 

He stated that 13 people would be freed initially, all women and children from the same families. 

He said Palestinians held in Israeli jails would also be released today, noting that a list of unspecified number of inmate names had been approved. 

Ansari said: “The skies will be clear” of drones for a period of time to “allow for the hostage release to happen in a safe environment”. 

“Obviously every day will include a number of civilians as agreed to total 50 within the four days,” the Qatari spokesperson said. 

“During these four days, information will be collected about the rest of the hostages to consider the possibility of more releases and thus extending the pause,” he added. 

Asari said the pause entailed “a complete ceasefire… with no attacks from the air or the ground,” adding that he hoped “there will be no violations”. 

“The ceasefire deal is to take effect in stages that can be extended and broadened. It is also intended to provide aid to Gaza’s 2.4 million residents. 

“The agreement, it still… stands and as was agreed upon,” Ansari said. 

The armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, also confirmed yesterday that a truce would begin today, “accompanied by the cessation of all military actions from the Qassam Brigades and the Palestinian resistance”. 

It said during the ceasefire, 50 hostages, including women and males aged 18 or under, would be freed, with three Palestinians to be released for each of them. 

Hamas official, Bassem Naim, said: “Marathon negotiations” were behind the agreement, which “represents an important step towards alleviating the suffering of our people”. 

The release of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails would start with those who have been detained the longest, Naim said. 

The Israeli prime minister’s office also said yesterday that authorities were in contact with the families of all the hostages being held in Gaza after receiving “a first list of names”. 


Israeli forces launch fresh attack ahead ceasefire 

Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinians were yesterday killed and hundreds wounded as Israeli forces stepped up attacks in Gaza ahead of the truce coming into effect today, Al Jazeera reported. 

Israeli fighter jets reportedly struck Sheikh Nasser neighbourhood in eastern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, killing at least five people and wounding dozens.  

Among those injured is a photojournalist, Wafa State News Agency reported. 


Nigeria, 7 others reject selectivity in application of intl’ laws

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, according to a statement yesterday by his spokesperson, Abdulkadir Alkasim, joined other members of the ministerial committee constituted by the Joint Arab-Islamic Summit to find a lasting solution to the war in Gaza, to call on the United Kingdom to reject selectivity in applying international laws. 

The call had been made in London on Tuesday when the committee met with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom, David Cameron.  

The committee had urged the international community to fulfil its responsibility by rejecting all forms of selectivity in applying international legal and moral standards and turning a blind eye to the “heinous crimes” committed by the Israeli occupation forces against “defenceless Palestinian civilians”, and the trend of the occupation’s violations against the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. 

The meeting touched on efforts to revive the peace process in the Palestinian issue, as members of the ministerial committee stressed the importance of ensuring a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace, through the implementation of international laws related to the two-state solution to enable the Palestinian people to obtain their legitimate rights to establish an independent, sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem. 

The meeting discussed the need to secure safe passages to deliver humanitarian aid, food, water, fuel and electricity to Gaza and allow international organisations to carry out their tasks in the Gaza Strip and its surroundings.  

The members of the ministerial committee stressed the importance of members of the Security Council and the international community to take effective and urgent measures for a complete ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, stressing that “this is a priority for all Arab and Islamic countries.” 

The statement said Tuggar once again condemned the disproportionate use of force against civilians in Gaza, stating, “At the centre of this crisis is the disproportionality of the use of force. It does not add up for us to sit by while homes in Gaza are destroyed, thousands are killed, we have to give peace a chance and that is why Nigeria is involved. It is all about humanity.”


West, Israel not ready for two-state solution – Palestinian envoy

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja yesterday, Abdullah Shawesh, Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Nigeria, expressed concern that the West and Israel were not ready to enforce the two-state solution to the niggling conflict between Palestine and Israel. 

He alleged that Israel and the United States, in particular, were frustrating all efforts to implement the two-state solution as declared by the United Nations. 

“They (the West and Israel) have the ability to make the two-state a reality but they don’t want it, they are not ready for it.

“We did not get ready today, we have been ready yesterday, today and tomorrow,” the Palestine envoy said. 

Speaking on the cease-fire, hostage and prisoners’ release deal, Shawesh said there were more than 7,000 Palestinians, including over 300 children, in Israel’s jails. 

He said after over 13,000 Palestinian deaths, “we don’t want to see more deaths from the two sides. We hope that all hostages can go back to their homes.” 

On the claim that Hamas had a tunnel and a command centre under Al-Shifa Hospital, he said it was all propaganda. 

According to him, the Israeli engineers developed the Al-Shifah hospital and built the bunker, adding that they had always known there was a bunker there before now. 

The envoy called for the constitution of an international independent enquiry council to investigate the claims.


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