There are 2.3 million Palestinian ‘hostages’ in Gaza

Al-Rishq accused Israel of obstructing mediators’ efforts for a deal by “invading the Rafah crossing, occupying and launching continuous attacks on the city.” [Getty]

Once again, the delegation for Palestinian Islamic Hamas left Egypt’s capital, Cairo, without achieving a deal with the Israeli occupation that would ensure a temporary calm after seven months of Israel’s war on the besieged coastal enclave. 

Izzat al-Rishq, a senior leader in Hamas, said in a statement that “the Hamas’ delegation headed to Doha after a round of negotiations in Cairo,” stressing his movement’s adherence to its position in approving the proposal presented by the mediators in Egypt.

Al-Rishq accused Israel of obstructing mediators’ efforts for a deal by “invading the Rafah crossing, occupying and launching continuous attacks on the city.”

“Israel blocks the efforts of mediators and prefers to continue the aggression and war of extermination against our people,” he added. 

For the third day in a row, intensified land, air and sea attacks by the Israeli military hit the city of Rafah. The Israeli attacks on Rafah killed dozens of Palestinians, the majority of whom were children, according to Palestinian medical and security sources in the city.

Additionally, more than 80,000 people were forcibly displaced by Israel to the city of Khan Yunis and the central areas of the Gaza Strip, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

UNRWA added it would not evacuate Rafah and would continue to provide its services to civilians there.

A senior Hamas official, who preferred to remain anonymous, accused the United States of being “a dishonest mediator (…) as it wants to ensure the liberation of the Israeli hostages from the Gaza Strip first and foremost.”

The official told The New Arab that “throughout the rounds of indirect negotiations with the Israeli occupation, the United States was negotiating on its behalf and may often be more stubborn than Israel.”

“Because of the unfair US position,” the official says, “we have not been able, until this moment, to reach a truce agreement that ends the suffering of our Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, which is experiencing annihilation.”

Israel has been launching a large-scale war on the coastal enclave since 7 October, after Hamas led a surprise attack on Israeli military bases and settlements within and around the Gaza envelope. According to Israel, about 1,150 people were killed, and Palestinian armed groups captured about 240 Israelis of military and civilian backgrounds. 

According to official Palestinian data, Israel’s attack on Gaza since has killed more than 44,500 Palestinians and injured more than 78,000, with more than 20,000 others missing, including those under the rubble and others detained by Israeli forces.

“According to Israeli claims, the Israeli army killed about 14,000 Hamas fighters and activists, while the rest were defenceless civilians who were helpless. Who is responsible for killing them?” remarked Yazan Abu Samhadana, a Rafah-based displaced man. 

The 45-year-old father of five children further asked TNA, “Why did the US not force Israel to stop its war against civilians? What is the argument it clings to force Hamas to release Israeli hostages when it does not care about the thousands of Palestinians taken [by Israeli forces] from Gaza?”

“If the US only sees hostages held by Hamas, then we want to raise our voice to the world and say that there are 2.3 million Palestinian hostages in Gaza who have no chance of escaping Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people and not against Hamas,” Abu Samhadana added. 

Shirine Sheikh Ali, a displaced Palestinian woman in the city of Rafah forced to flee for the eighth time since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza, shared a similar sentiment. 

“We do not know what our fate is, and we do not know how to manage our lives in this total war that does not differentiate between civilian and military or between woman and child,” the 50-year-old mother of three told TNA. 

“We are hostages of the Israeli wars, and the world could not save us from the madness and criminality of the Israeli leaders over the past years (…) Every time Israel forces us to pay the price of its wars,” she said. 

Sheikh Ali further added, “The US only cares about the Israelis, their fate, and their safety, whether they are civilians or soldiers dedicated to killing us, Palestinians.”

Sheikh Ali calls on the people of the world to punish the US and Israel and consider them equal partners in this genocide because “the US leaders, especially President Joe Biden, care about the Israeli hostages without paying attention to the Palestinian hostages.”

Mustafa Ibrahim, a Gaza-based political analyst, opined that “the US is the official sponsor of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip and that it is the primary financier of the deadly weapons that Israel uses in its bombing of the Gaza Strip.”

“It is clear that the US administration turns a blind eye to the massacres committed by the Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip while mobilising all its diplomatic forces if any Israeli occupier is targeted, even if they are killing the children of Gaza,” Ibrahim said to TNA

“The US has always adopted a policy of double standards in all wars and battles in the world in a way that only serves its interest, and currently Israel’s interest in consolidating its existential presence in the Middle East, especially in light of the rise of other powers such as China and Russia,” he added.

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