Blinken accuses Hamas of obstructing Gaza truce by demanding "unworkable" changes

The terror group demands, among other things, an immediate Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the release of Palestinian prisoners by seniority order, regardless of their charges. It also calls for China, Russia and Turkey to be added as guarantors of the agreement 
El secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, Antony Blinken - <a target="_blank" href="">Depositphotos</a>
El secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, Antony Blinken - Depositphotos
  1. Changes demanded by Hamas 
  2. Hamas calls civilian deaths in Gaza "necessary sacrifices" 
  3. Hezbollah fires 200 shells into Israel after IDF eliminates senior commander 

Negotiations for a Gaza truce face a new challenge after Hamas demanded "unworkable" changes to the US proposal, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a press conference in Qatar.    

"Hamas has proposed numerous changes. Some of the changes are workable, some are not," said Blinken, who also pledged to "continue to press urgently" with Qatar and Egypt to try to conclude the deal. 

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani made a similar point, pledging "to close the gaps and find a way to end the war as soon as possible". 

Blinken, during his eighth visit to the region since the start of the war, stressed that the proposed agreement was "virtually identical" to the one Hamas presented on 6 May. Washington's Middle East allies have endorsed the proposal, while the UN Security Council voted in favour of the plan earlier this week. 

In its initial phase, the ceasefire proposal calls for a cessation of fighting, the release of some Israeli hostages from Gaza, the release of some Palestinian prisoners, an increase in humanitarian aid for Gazans, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas of Gaza and the return of Palestinian civilians to their homes and neighbourhoods. 

Subsequently, a permanent cessation of hostilities is envisaged in exchange for the release of all remaining hostages in Gaza and a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Palestinian enclave and, finally, progress on a multi-year reconstruction plan for the Gaza Strip. The last phase also includes the return of the bodies of the deceased hostages still in Gaza.

During his trip to Israel, Blinken said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had "reaffirmed his commitment" to the proposed six-week ceasefire. "Everyone has said yes, except Hamas," he said, making it clear that if Hamas did not accept it, it was "clearly their fault". 

For this reason, Blinken urged the international community to press Hamas to accept it, stressing that this latest proposal represents the best chance to secure the release of all remaining hostages in Gaza, end the war and "alleviate the terrible suffering of the Palestinians".   

However, far-right members of Netanyahu's government do not welcome the proposal either, threatening to quit the executive if the war is ended without first defeating Hamas. In addition to threats from his own political allies, Netanyahu is also under pressure from thousands of Israelis, including the families of hostages, to accept Washington's deal. 

Changes demanded by Hamas 

Israeli media outlet Ynet reports on the alleged demands Hamas has made in order to accept a ceasefire with Israel. Firstly, the terrorist organisation demands that Israeli troops withdraw from all populated areas of Gaza during the first day of the truce, and then from strategic areas such as the Saladin road - the main road in Gaza - or the Philadelphi corridor - the strip of land parallel to the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. 

Regarding the release of Israeli hostages, Hamas intends to release 32 hostages alive and not 33 in the first stage, threatening to halt the release if the Israeli withdrawal from populated areas of Gaza is not completed within a week.  

On the other hand, they call for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails to be released in order of seniority, regardless of their crimes.  

At the end of this first phase there must be no Israeli soldiers left inside Gaza, demanding a declaration from Jerusalem committing to a permanent end to hostilities. Hamas called for China, Russia and Turkey to be added as guarantors of the agreement. 

After the end of the fighting, the terrorist group demands the release of some of its members - without any Israeli veto - and calls for the conditions of detainees in Israel to be improved back to post-7 October levels.  

In conclusion, Hamas wants 50 of its fighters in Gaza to be transferred daily to Egypt for medical care, while demanding that Israel provide Gaza with all the electricity it needs. Also, all terrorists will return to their homes and none will be deported from Gaza.   

These modifications would allow Hamas to remain in power in Gaza, something both Israel and the US have openly rejected as it would continue to pose a threat to the Hebrew state. Similarly, while not publicly admitting it, many of the Arab countries in the region do not welcome Hamas's continued power.   

The Palestinian armed group, in addition to being backed and funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran, also has strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organisation at odds with many of the region's Arab governments.  

Un palestino sostiene banderas de Hamás
A Palestinian holds Hamas flags - AFP/JOHN MACDOUGALL

Hamas calls civilian deaths in Gaza "necessary sacrifices" 

Hamas's main goal in this war is to maintain its hold on power in Gaza, an aim also pursued by Tehran to consolidate its influence in the region through its proxies. To achieve this, the terrorist group is willing to "sacrifice" as many Gazan civilians as necessary, a strategy that some of its leaders have admitted on several occasions.  

In this regard, The Wall Street Journal has reported on recordings of Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza, in which he describes the civilian casualties as "necessary sacrifices" to bring Israel to its knees. 

The conversations - which are undated - show that the 7 October attack in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and more than 200 kidnapped was aimed at forcing a brutal military response from Israel and thwarting a peace plan between the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia. 

"We have the Israelis right where we want them," admits Sinwar, who is believed to be hiding somewhere in a Gaza tunnel.   

Earlier, when the US announced its new proposal for a truce, Arab mediators said Sinwar was "in no hurry to end the war", believing that the conflict was isolating Israel internationally and advancing the Palestinian cause. 

Hezbollah fires 200 shells into Israel after IDF eliminates senior commander 

While the war rages in Gaza, where more than 37,000 people have been killed, according to Hamas-controlled Health Ministry figures, the so-far low-intensity conflict on the Israel-Lebanon border is intensifying, stoking fears of open war between the IDF and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.  

In recent hours, after Israel confirmed the death of Taleb Abdullah, a senior Lebanese militia commander, Hezbollah has launched more than 200 missiles into northern Israel. Abdullah is the most senior member of the organisation Israel has eliminated since the start of hostilities in October, so Hezbollah's response attack has also been the most intense since then.  

The shells even reached the city of Tiberias, 65 kilometres from the border, and other towns even further south where alarms have been sounding in recent hours.  

Local authorities and residents who have not evacuated the area accuse the government of "abandoning the north", demanding measures to restore security and allow all displaced people to return home.  

Hezbollah attacks have intensified significantly in recent weeks, sparking numerous fires in northern Israel and increasing fears of a wider conflict that would have devastating consequences for both Israel and Lebanon