Heavy fighting again in northern Gaza


Lerato Khumalo

Israel’s army has to keep returning to places it withdrew from months ago. Hamas is fighting with guerrilla tactics. What will become of the ceasefire negotiations?

A resurgence of heavy fighting between Israel’s army and the Islamist Hamas in the north of the Gaza Strip is overshadowing the revived negotiations on the release of hostages and a ceasefire. Israel is again taking action against Hamas fighters on the ground and from the air in the devastated city of Gaza. In recent weeks, Israeli forces have repeatedly returned to areas they had previously invaded and from which they had withdrawn.

This shows how the fight against Hamas could become a “protracted war of attrition,” writes the Wall Street Journal. Israel’s renewed action in the city of Gaza could lead to the failure of the indirect negotiations on a hostage agreement that have resumed in Cairo, Hamas said. Its foreign chief Ismail Haniya warned the Qatari and Egyptian mediators accordingly, it said. The USA, which is also acting as a mediator in the war, nevertheless sees chances for an agreement.

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Despite everything, the US sees chances for a ceasefire. (Archive photo) (Source: Andrew Harnik/AP/dpa/dpa-bilder)

There are still points on which Israel and Hamas are far apart, said John Kirby, communications director of the National Security Council in the White House. “But we wouldn’t have sent a team there if we didn’t believe we had a chance here,” he said, referring to the talks in Cairo. On Wednesday, CIA Director Bill Burns will travel on to Doha to meet again with his negotiating partners from Qatar, Egypt and Israel, reported the US news portal “Axios”.

Hamas: Netanyahu is hindering the negotiation process

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously demanded the right for Israel to continue fighting against Hamas as a non-negotiable condition for an agreement. “Any agreement will allow Israel to resume fighting until all war aims are achieved,” says a list of conditions published by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office. Netanyahu is “putting additional obstacles in the way of negotiations,” says a statement from Hamas.

There are public statements on both sides “that do not necessarily fully reflect the discussions we are having with them or their interlocutors in private,” said Kirby, communications director of the National Security Council in the White House. A step-by-step plan is on the table. The mediators are currently trying to formulate a plan to bridge the gap on still contentious points. Netanyahu’s list of conditions was met with criticism in mediation circles, according to media reports.

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Israel’s army repeatedly accuses Hamas of entrenching itself in civilian buildings. (Archive photo) (Source: Leo Correa/AP/dpa/dpa-bilder)

Meanwhile, Israel’s air force also reportedly attacked several terrorists holed up in a school building in the central Gaza Strip. According to Israel’s military, the group of Hamas and Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fighters in the Nuseirat area were fired upon with precision ammunition on Monday evening to avoid civilian casualties. No further details were given. The information could not be independently verified.

The Israeli army once again pointed out that the two terrorist organizations were “systematically violating international law by using civilian facilities and the population as human shields for terrorist attacks against the State of Israel,” it said. In Nuseirat, the army recently reportedly spotted Hamas fighters in the area of ​​a former school belonging to the UN refugee agency UNRWA and attacked them from the air. According to Hamas, 16 people were killed.

The army explained that this object also served as a hiding place and operational base for terrorists to attack the Israeli military. And steps had also been taken beforehand to minimize the risk to civilians during the attack. None of the information – neither from the Israeli army nor from Hamas – could be independently verified. The Gaza war was triggered by the massacre with more than 1,200 deaths that terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups carried out in Israel on October 7, 2023.