Middle east

In a message to the arabs… Sinwar reveals Hamas’s stance on Biden’s plan to end the Gaza War

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, informed Arab negotiators that he would not accept the peace agreement unless Israel commits to a permanent ceasefire, confirming the armed group’s stance in his first response to the proposal made by US President Joe Biden to end the ongoing war of eight months, as reported by the American newspaper “The Wall Street Journal”.

Arab mediators said that “Hamas will not hand over its weapons or sign any proposal requesting that,” according to what Yahya Sinwar told them in a brief message received late on Thursday while two senior US officials, including CIA Director William Burns, were holding talks in the region aimed at restarting long-stalled negotiations.

Biden publicly broadcast what he described as the Israeli peace plan in remarks from the White House on Friday, urging both sides to overcome fundamental differences and distrust, seeking to rally international support for the deal.

Sinwar’s Response

The American newspaper confirmed that Sinwar’s response came as the Israeli army bombed a United Nations school turned into a shelter in Al-Nuseirat, central Gaza, targeting what it said was a Hamas facility. Palestinian officials in Gaza said at least 40 people were killed, including 14 children and nine women.

The Israeli army said its airstrike targeted three classrooms where between 20 to 30 militants were hiding, including some who belonged to a unit involved in the October 7 attacks on Israel.

Israeli military spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari said more names of militants killed in the raid would be revealed later, and steps had been taken before the strike to avoid civilian casualties. The Israeli army did not provide information on civilian casualties.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the United States expects Israel to be fully transparent about who was killed in the raid, noting that Israel had the right to target militants in the school but also had an obligation to take every possible step to minimize harm to nearby civilians.

He added: “Even if the intent was what the Israeli army stated publicly, which is that they were trying to use a precise strike to target only 20 to 30 militants, if you see 14 children die in that strike, it indicates something went wrong, these children are not terrorists.”

Israeli Crime

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was unable to confirm whether Hamas was using the compound where about 6,000 people are staying.

UNRWA spokeswoman Juliette Touma said: “We remind all parties to the conflict that schools and other United Nations buildings should never be used for military or combat purposes.”

The Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza last week that killed dozens of civilians increased international pressure on Israel regarding how it conducts its war on Gaza. Israel said two senior Hamas officials were killed in a raid last week.

US Moves

The newspaper indicated that such incidents also increase pressure on Biden to find a way to end the war, which has divided his base and become a political burden before the fall presidential elections. Negotiations between Israel and Hamas, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, to reach a ceasefire agreement have stalled for months.

The United States has drafted a resolution for the United Nations Security Council calling on Hamas to accept the latest proposal.

The three-stage plan outlined by Biden begins with a complete ceasefire over six weeks, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas in Gaza, and the release of some hostages held by Hamas.

The second phase will see a permanent cessation of hostilities, the complete withdrawal of Israel from Gaza, and the release of the remaining hostages. The third phase will include a plan to rebuild Gaza.

Israel and Hamas have said the conditions set out by Biden do not accurately reflect what has been presented to the Palestinian group.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated after Biden‘s speech that he would not accept any agreement committing to a permanent ceasefire, and one of his senior advisers criticized the draft resolution with similar conditions.

Hamas said in a statement distributed on Thursday that the plan outlined by Biden last week would be largely acceptable.

White House officials have publicly placed the responsibility for accepting the plan on Hamas, stating that Biden accurately represents the Israeli position.

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