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Hamas demands permanent ceasefire for hostage deal

The movement fears that the time limit would allow the Israeli side to find a pretext to resume fighting and derail the deal

TEL AVIV, June 13. /TASS/. The main obstacle to a hostage deal is the demand of the radical Palestinian movement Hamas for a complete and permanent ceasefire, The Times of Israel newspaper reported, citing sources.

According to it, Hamas is demanding that the Israeli authorities provide guarantees for a ceasefire. At the same time, the Israeli side offered a ceasefire for only six weeks in the first phase of the proposed deal. During this time, Israel and Hamas would have to agree on the terms of the second phase, which would include a permanent ceasefire.

Although Israel's proposal allows for an extension of the six-week ceasefire to continue negotiations, Hamas fears that the time limit would allow the Israeli side to find a pretext to resume fighting and derail the deal.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden announced his three-phase ceasefire plan for resolving the Middle East conflict, with each phase lasting six weeks. The first phase calls for a complete ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza settlements, and the release of hostages held by Hamas in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. In addition, the parties are to start negotiations during this phase, with the ceasefire remaining in place until they reach an agreement. The second phase calls for the release of all surviving hostages, including servicemen. The third stage will see the beginning of the reconstruction of the war-ravaged Gaza Strip and the transfer of the remains of dead Israelis to their families.

On June 11, Hamas and the radical Islamic Jihad movement announced that they had delivered a response to the initiative to mediators from Qatar and Egypt, expressing their willingness to take positive steps to reach an agreement to end the war in the enclave. The US, Egypt and Qatar confirmed receipt of the response and pledged to continue mediation efforts until an agreement is reached between the parties to the Gaza conflict.

Tensions flared up again in the Middle East on October 7, 2023, when militants from the Gaza Strip-based radical Palestinian movement Hamas staged a surprise attack on Israeli territory from Gaza, killing residents of Israeli border settlements and taking over 240 hostages, including women, children and the elderly. Hamas described its attack as a response to the aggressive actions of Israeli authorities against the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. In response, Israel declared a total blockade of the Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million Palestinians before the crisis, and has been delivering air strikes on Gaza as well as some parts of Lebanon and Syria. Clashes have also been reported on the West Bank.