Hamas official speaks of big gaps with Israel in truce talks

Hamas official speaks of big gaps with Israel in truce talks
Hamas official speaks of big gaps with Israel in truce talks

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Palestinians assess the destruction of a house hit by Israeli bombardment in the northern part of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 23, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. — AFP pic

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, March 24 — Deep differences exist between Hamas and Israel in negotiations for a Gaza truce, an official from the Palestinian group with knowledge of the talks told AFP today.

The difficult talks over a ceasefire and possible exchange of hostages and prisoners resumed in Doha this week, with Israel’s spy chief joining Egyptian, Qatari and US mediators.

“There is a deep divergence in positions in the negotiations between Hamas and the occupation (Israel) because the enemy understood the flexibility shown by the movement as weakness,” the official said.

The official added that “the enemy wants to reach a temporary ceasefire after which it can resume its aggression against our people.”

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Israel “refuses to agree on a comprehensive ceasefire and refuses the complete withdrawal of its forces from Gaza,” the official said.

The official added that Israel had indicated it wanted to keep matters of relief, shelter and aid under its control, and demanded “the United Nations not return to work, especially in the northern Gaza Strip”.

Long strained ties between Israel and the United Nations have worsened as international outrage has built over the heavy civilian toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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The return of hostages taken in Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel has been a central question in the talks — but the Hamas official did not offer any comment on the issue.

Palestinian fighters seized about 250 Israeli and foreign hostages in the attack, but dozens were released during a week-long truce in November.

Israel believes about 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead — eight soldiers and 25 civilians. — AFP

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