Israel sends delegation to Qatar for new Gaza talks



Israel dispatched a delegation to Qatar for renewed discussions on a potential ceasefire in Gaza, despite rejecting Hamas’s latest proposal as impractical. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a military offensive plan targeting Rafah, situated at the southern border of Gaza, where a significant population of up to 1.5 million Palestinians resides. Despite unsuccessful negotiations last week prior to Ramadan, mediators remain committed to brokering an agreement to avert the Israeli offensive on Rafah and facilitate the distribution of vital humanitarian aid to prevent widespread starvation.

Even Israel’s staunch ally, the United States, has implored against the assault on Rafah, citing the dire humanitarian consequences it would entail. Israel asserts plans to ensure the safety of civilians before any military action. In response to a truce proposal, Hamas suggested a six-week ceasefire to permit aid delivery and proposed a prisoner-hostage exchange, prompting a shift in Israel’s rhetoric from outright dismissal to labeling the offer as unrealistic. Analysts observe this change in tone from Netanyahu, indicating a nuanced approach to the negotiation process.

Amidst these diplomatic maneuvers, the Open Arms ship arrived off the Gaza coast, carrying 200 tonnes of food aid. While this sea route offers a potential lifeline, humanitarian organisations stress the inadequacy of sea or air deliveries, urging Israel to cease obstructing land deliveries by truck. The United Nations reports a severe food shortage affecting all 2.3 million residents of Gaza, with a quarter of them teetering on the brink of famine, particularly in the northern regions where hospitals have reported child fatalities due to starvation. If successful, the sea route could alleviate the hunger crisis gripping Gaza, offering hope to the vulnerable population facing malnutrition and starvation.