Hamas Insists That Israel Must Agree To A Permanent Ceasefire!

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Hamas says it has submitted its response to a US-backed plan for a ceasefire in Gaza, with a senior official telling the BBC that it still requires an Israeli commitment to a permanent ceasefire.

In a statement, the group and its Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) allies, expressed ‘readiness to positively’ reach a deal. The proposed ceasefire plan – which was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council on Monday night – calls for a six-week ceasefire that would eventually become permanent.

Qatar and Egypt – who, along with the US, have mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas – confirmed that the Palestinian group had submitted its reply.

In its statement on Tuesday evening, Hamas called for a ‘complete halt’ to fighting in Gaza. ‘The response prioritises the interests of our Palestinian people and emphasises the necessity of a complete halt to the ongoing aggression on Gaza,’ Hamas and the PIJ said.

The groups added that they were ready ‘to engage positively to reach an agreement that ends this war’.

Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ‘reaffirmed his commitment’ to the Gaza ceasefire plan and the world was waiting for the Hamas response.

The proposal set out by President Biden last month involves an initial six-week ceasefire, with Hamas releasing some hostages in exchange for Israel releasing an undefined number of Palestinian prisoners.

A second phase would see the remaining hostages released by Hamas and a total withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza as part of a ‘permanent’ ceasefire.

Netanyahu has acknowledged his war cabinet has authorised the plan but has not voiced unequivocal support for it. Far right members of his cabinet have threatened to quit his coalition and trigger its collapse if the deal goes forward, saying it is a surrender to Hamas.

A new UN report says violence against children reached ‘extreme levels’ in conflict-stricken countries last year, with more grave violations being committed against children in war-torn Gaza and the occupied West Bank than anywhere else in the world.

The annual report on Children in Armed Conflict, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian on Tuesday, reported that the occupied Palestinian territories present ‘an unprecedented scale and intensity of grave violations against children’.

The UN report verified more than 8,000 grave violations against 4,247 Palestinian children in 2023.

The report continued: ‘Owing to severe access challenges, in particular in the Gaza Strip, the information presented herein does not represent the full scale of violations against children in this situation.’

The report said that most incidents were caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas by the Israeli military and the regime’s deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians.

It also stated that in the course of the Israeli war on Gaza, ‘nearly all critical infrastructure, facilities and services have been attacked,’ stressing: ‘Children are at risk of famine, severe malnutrition and preventable death.’

The report also found grave abuses by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, with 126 Palestinian children killed and 906 detained.

The genocidal Israeli war on Gaza has inflicted immense suffering on innocent civilians, particularly children, whose lives have been shattered by airstrikes, displacement, and loss of loved ones.

The annual assessment, due to be presented to the UN General Assembly later this week by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, included for the first time the Israeli military on its blacklist of perpetrators that violate children’s rights. Guterres said he is ‘appalled by the dramatic increase and unprecedented scale and intensity of grave violations against children in the Gaza Strip, Israel and the occupied West Bank.’

The magnitude of the Israeli military campaign and the scope of death and destruction in the Gaza Strip are unprecedented. Israel waged its brutal Gaza onslaught on October 7th after the Palestinian Hamas resistance group carried out its historic operation against the occupying entity in retaliation for the regime’s intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people.

So far, the Tel Aviv regime has killed at least 37,124 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured 84,712 others in the Gaza Strip.

It is now long overdue for the British trade unions to join the millions of workers worldwide that are supporting the Palestinian masses by taking action. The TUC must call a general strike to halt all UK arms sales to Israel and to bring down the Tories to bring in a workers’ government whose first task will be to extend the maximum support to Palestine!