Day 114 of the war and the IDF reports that it has completely encircled Khan Yunis in the center of the Gaza strip and is slowly but surely eliminating resistance there,
According to a New York Times report, American-led negotiators are edging closer to an agreement in which Israel would suspend its war in Gaza for about two months in exchange for the release of more than 100 hostages still held by Hamas, a deal that could be sealed in the next two weeks and would transform the conflict consuming the region.
Negotiators have developed a written draft agreement merging proposals offered by Israel and Hamas in the last 10 days into a basic framework that will be the subject of talks in Paris today. While there are still important disagreements to be worked out, negotiators are cautiously optimistic that a final accord is within reach, according to U.S. officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive talks.
In a statement in Israel on Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to securing the release of those hostages who were not freed as part of a more limited agreement in November. “As of today, we have returned 110 of our hostages and we are committed to returning all of them home,” he said. “We are dealing with this and we are doing so around the clock, including now.”
|The deal now coming together would be more expansive in scope than the previous one, officials say. In the first phase, fighting would stop for about 30 days while women, elderly and wounded hostages were released by Hamas. During that period, the two sides would work out details of a second phase that would suspend military operations for roughly another 30 days in exchange for Israeli soldiers and male civilians being held. The ratio of Palestinians to be released from Israeli prisons is still to be negotiated but that is viewed as a solvable issue. The deal would also allow for more humanitarian aid into Gaza.
The US Department of State announced its temporarily pausing additional funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) after allegations that UNRWA’s employees may have been involved in the attacks on Oct. 7, according to a statement on Friday from department spokesman Matthew Miller. There is also suspicion that these employees may also have used UNRWA equipment to enter Israel.
“The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them,” according to the statement.
Miller said Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday to emphasize the necessity of a thorough and swift investigation of this matter. Nine other countries have followed suit based on these allegations, including the UK, Finland and Italy.
Regarding medical assistance in Gaza, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have set up field hospitals in Khan Yunis and Rafah in Gaza, providing medical care. A Red Crescent field hospital, working alongside Al Amal hospital in Khan Yunis, and an IMC hospital in Rafah are also operational, offering various medical services including surgery and emergency care.
Additionally, France has sent a floating hospital to Al-Arish port, treating over 2,000 Gazan patients so far, while Italy has dispatched a similar hospital ship, which has treated 60 patients. These efforts are part of a broader initiative to improve medical response in Gaza
This weekend marks 40 years since I made Aliyah to Israel at the end of January, 1984. Overall, it has been an enlightening experience and wonderful to be in a country where one person can still make a difference. In spite of the constant threat of war, actually living in a war zone and the risk from that, given what is going on in the world, with rising antisemitism seemingly everywhere, Israel is probably the safest place in the world today for Jews. I feel privileged to live here and to be able to live out in real time the hope that our people have harbored for over 2,000 years to once again live in a sovereign State of Israel in the land of Israel. Am Yisrael Chai….the people of Israel live!