Hostage deal could pause Gaza war: Biden

– Biden implores Congress to avoid shutdown and send urgent aid to Ukraine and Israel
– Israel and Hamas indicate no deal is imminent
– Qatar’s Amir discusses Gaza and hostages with Macron

Jerusalem: President Joe Biden has said Israel would be willing to halt its war on Hamas in Gaza during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan if a deal is reached to release some of the hostages held by the militants.

Negotiators from the U.S., Egypt and Qatar are working on a framework deal under which Hamas would free some of the dozens of hostages it holds, in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners and a six-week halt in fighting. During the temporary pause, negotiations would continue over the release of the remaining hostages.

Amidst the hectic negotiations, Israeli troops Thursday fired on a large crowd of Palestinians racing to pull food off an aid convoy in Gaza City. More than 100 people were killed, bringing the death toll since the start of the Israel-Hamas war to more than 30,000, according to health officials.

Israeli officials acknowledged that troops opened fire, saying they did so after the crowd approached in a threatening way. The officials insisted on anonymity to give details about what happened, after the military said in a statement that “dozens were killed and injured from pushing, trampling and being run over by the trucks.”

Meanwhile, both Israel and Hamas on Tuesday played down chances of an imminent breakthrough in talks for a cease-fire in Gaza. While the families of hostages held in Gaza and their supporters have launched a four-day march from southern Israel to Jerusalem to demand their loved ones be set free.

The march comes as negotiations are underway in Qatar to bring about a deal between Hamas and Israel that would lead to a cease-fire in exchange for the release of hostages. U.S. President Joe Biden has said such a deal was at hand but officials from Israel and Hamas were skeptical of his optimism.

The war began after Hamas-led militants stormed across southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 others hostage.

Image courtesy of TOI