| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Israel-Hamas deal receives regional, international welcome

The four-day truce between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas was welcomed regionally and internationally, with countries expressing hope that the move will be a breakthrough in the ongoing crisis.

Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day humanitarian pause that would see the Palestinian group release dozens of hostages taken by the militant group on October 7, both sides announced Wednesday.

Hamas launched an attack last month that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and around 240 more were taken hostage, among them elderly people and children.

In response, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which the Hamas government says has killed more than 14,100 people, thousands of them children.

Saudi Arabia welcomes the agreement and appreciates the roles played by Qatar, Egypt and the US in its realization, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement reiterated Riyadh’s call for a “comprehensive cessation of military operations.”

Jordan said it hoped the truce would be a step in the direction of ending the war in Gaza and preventing the targeting and displacement of Palestinians.

In a statement carried by state media, the foreign ministry said it hoped the four-day pause in fighting would allow much-needed humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave.

For his part, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hailed the success of the mediation it conducted alongside Qatar and the United States in brokering a “humanitarian truce” in the Gaza Strip.

Al-Sisi also welcomed the planned “exchange of hostages for prisoners” held in Israeli jails, his office said.

As for Turkey’s foreign ministry, the deal is a “positive development.”

“We expect full compliance with the agreement,” the ministry said. “We hope that the humanitarian pause will help permanently end the current conflict as soon as possible and initiate a process towards a just and lasting peace based on a two-state solution,” it said in a statement.

British Foreign Minister David Cameron welcomed the agreement, saying it is a “crucial step towards providing relief to the families of the hostages and addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

He urged all parties “to ensure the agreement is delivered in full.”

Germany’s foreign minister described the deal as a “breakthrough.”

“The announced release of the first major group of hostages is a breakthrough — even if nothing in the world can undo their suffering,” said Annalena Baerbock on social media platform X.

She added, “The humanitarian pause must be used to bring vital aid to people in Gaza.”

China hoped that the deal would help de-escalate the tensions that broke out after Hamas gunmen stormed across Israel’s border on October 7 and staged the deadliest attack in the country’s history.

“We welcome the temporary ceasefire agreement reached by relevant parties,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular briefing.

Beijing hopes “that it will help ease the plight of the humanitarian crisis, de-escalate the conflict and ease tensions,” Mao said.

“Since the outbreak of the current round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict, China has always called for a ceasefire and made unremitting efforts to cool down the situation, protect civilians and carry out humanitarian assistance,” she added.

Russia joined the international voices hailing the truce deal with the Kremlin saying that “this is the first good news from Gaza in a long time.”

“Russia and most countries were calling for a truce and humanitarian pauses, because only on the basis of such pauses can the contours of future attempts at a sustainable settlement be built,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Among those missing since the October 7 attack are eight French citizens that France had expressed hope would be among those included in deal.

“We are working tirelessly to get all of the hostages freed,” President Emmanuel Macron said on X.

  • alarabiya