US calls on Hamas for hostage deal with Israel

The United States called on Hamas on Monday to consent to a deal involving the release of hostages and a six-week ceasefire in Gaza, set to commence before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby highlighted in an online briefing the importance of the ceasefire as a component of the hostage release agreement. The deal on the table, accepted by Israel, demands Hamas to release hostages deemed vulnerable—such as the sick, wounded, elderly, and women—in exchange for a ceasefire. This pause in hostilities would facilitate a significant increase in humanitarian aid.

Kirby emphasized the urgency of reaching an agreement before Ramadan, starting on March 10, expressing optimism about achieving this timeline. He stressed that the ceasefire would not only decrease civilian casualties and damage but also support a comprehensive strategy for freeing hostages and boosting humanitarian assistance.

Earlier the same day, Vice President Kamala Harris and Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz met in Washington, where they discussed the hostage deal, humanitarian aid, and the ceasefire. Harris praised the leadership of the President in advancing towards the six-week ceasefire agreement and expressed a collective desire to conclude the conflict swiftly and effectively.

Meanwhile, delegations from Hamas, Qatar, and the US convened in Cairo for a new round of ceasefire talks in Gaza. A temporary agreement facilitated by Qatar, Egypt, and the US had previously allowed for a prisoner exchange and a limited ceasefire, during which minimal humanitarian aid reached Gaza.

The conflict has severely impacted Gaza, with Israeli actions following a Hamas incursion leading to significant loss of life and extensive infrastructure damage. According to the UN, the Israeli offensive has displaced 85% of Gaza’s population and destroyed or damaged 60% of its infrastructure. Amidst these challenges, Israel faces accusations at the International Court of Justice, with a preliminary ruling demanding a halt to genocidal acts and ensuring humanitarian aid reaches Gaza’s civilians.– Web Desk