Israel and Hamas have reached a deal mediated by Qatar and France to allow the delivery of medicine and aid to Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza as well as humanitarian supplies for Palestinian civilians, ending over 3 months of stalled talks.
The war between Israel and Hamas erupted in September 2023 after months of rising tensions in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel launched a major offensive called “Operation Dawn” against Hamas militants in Gaza in response to rocket attacks and violence from the group.
Over 2000 Palestinians, mostly militants but also hundreds of civilians, have been killed in the Israeli bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza. Dozens of Israelis have also been killed by Hamas rocket attacks.
In October, Hamas captured 4 Israeli civilians – 2 aid workers and 2 soldiers – who crossed into Gaza. Hamas has refused to release them without major concessions from Israel regarding lifting the blockade on Gaza and releasing Palestinian prisoners. Their detention prompted protests by their families demanding action.
Israel refused demands to lift the blockade without its citizens being released first. With both sides at an impasse, talks mediated by Egypt stalled for months. The hostages’ conditions were said to be deteriorating with limited access to medicine or outside contact per the Red Cross.
Deal Reached to Supply Medicine
On Monday, Qatar and France managed to broker a deal between Israel and Hamas centering on allowing medicine and aid to reach the Israeli hostages in exchange for additional humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza.
The supplies will be delivered by Qatar and inspected by Israeli authorities before being transported to Gaza. They include “essential medical supplies” for the 4 Israeli hostages, who have “long suffered from shortages of critical medications,” according to Israel’s Prime Minister.
In exchange, Israel committed to letting a separate Qatari shipment with medical aid and equipment for Palestinian civilians in Gaza to also enter in coordination with the UN. This civilian shipment is expected to include:
Israeli officials have warned the timing and amount of aid ultimately allowed into Gaza will depend on “continued calm” and Hamas restraint regarding rocket attacks.
The families of the Israeli hostages expressed relief at the deal after months of protests calling for government action regarding their medical needs and safe return. One family member said they finally “see a light at the end of the tunnel,” while calling on Israel to continue efforts to free the detainees.
Hamas also claimed victory, with a spokesman saying the group “forced Israel’s hand” to allow more aid into Gaza without making concessions itself regarding the hostages, rockets, or blockade.
However, some Israeli politicians criticized the deal as “capitulating to terrorism” by rewarding Hamas rocket attacks with aid. A lawmaker from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s party vowed to introduce legislation limiting his ability to allow materials into Gaza.
The first delivery of medical supplies from Qatar arrived in Egypt today en route to Gaza. But concerns remain about smooth implementation.
Hamas has demanded Israel allow a separate shipment with 1,000 boxes of medical aid into Gaza for every 1 box delivered to the Israeli hostages. Israeli officials rejected these new conditions, warning it could delay or even collapse the deal unless Hamas shows “good faith.”
Egypt may also complicate or delay transfers across its border with Gaza despite facilitating the initial Qatar shipment. Ongoing mediation will be key.
In the longer term, significant gaps between Israeli and Hamas positions remain regarding lifting the blockade, prisoner swaps, Rocket fire, and other issues underlying the conflict. More clashes are likely without a long-term ceasefire or resolution.
But for now, the families of the Israeli hostages and Palestinian civilians will welcome some relief through this limited deal on humanitarian medical aid after months of shortages and suffering.
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