Hamas Chief Arrives in Cairo for Truce and Prisoner Exchange Talks

Wed Dec 20 2023
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CAIRO: Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh landed in Cairo on Wednesday to hold talks aimed at reaching a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between the group and Israel in Gaza, along with exploring possibilities for a prisoner exchange. The visit is part of the efforts to find diplomatic solutions to the long-standing issues.

In a statement, Hamas announced Haniyeh’s arrival in Cairo, noting that he is in the Egyptian capital for talks with officials regarding the “developments of the Zionist (Israeli) aggression on the Gaza Strip and other matters.”

A source close to the Palestinian resistance group told AFP that Haniyeh is set to lead a “high-level” Hamas delegation during his visit to Egypt. Scheduled talks include meetings with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and other officials.

The primary focus of the discussions will be to explore avenues for halting the Israeli aggression and bringing an end to the conflict. The parties will also seek to negotiate an agreement for the release of prisoners and address the humanitarian concerns arising from the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to a lack of authorization to discuss the visit, highlighted that the discussions come in the wake of a week-long truce brokered by Qatar with assistance from Egypt and the United States. This previous truce saw the release of 80 Israeli hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

Meanwhile, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that Gaza has become a battleground that is proving to be the most dangerous place for children. The besieged enclave, which continues to endure relentless Israeli airstrikes, faces a humanitarian crisis that poses an imminent threat to the lives of its young population.

Over 19,667 Palestinians Killed Due to Israeli Attacks in Gaza 

The Gaza health authorities report that since October 7, over 19,667 Palestinians have been killed, and more than 52,000 have been injured due to Israeli bombardments in the enclave. Access to life-saving medical care is extremely limited, with only eight of the 36 hospitals in the Strip partially functional, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Amidst the escalating violence, Gaza’s population, estimated at 1.9 million people, faces mass displacement. The majority of the enclave’s residents are displaced, seeking safety in a precarious environment.

In the face of this dire situation, the UNICEF spokesperson called for an immediate and long-lasting humanitarian ceasefire as the only viable solution to end the killing and injuring of children. Such a ceasefire would also enable the urgent delivery of desperately needed life-saving aid, addressing the critical needs of Gaza’s vulnerable population.

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