Israel says UN resolution damaged Gaza truce talks

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A Palestinian man inspects a building destroyed in a reported Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip (26 March 2024)Image source, Reuters

Israel says Hamas’s rejection of a current proposal for a Gaza truce deal with Israel shows the “damage” done by the UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel would not surrender to what it called the Palestinian armed group’s “delusional demands”.

They include an end to the war and the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces.

Israeli air strikes and fighting on the ground across Gaza have continued.

More than 32,400 people have been killed in the territory since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, including 81 people in the past 24 hours, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The conflict began after Hamas gunmen attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 others as hostages.

Israel reacted furiously on Monday after the UN Security Council adopted for the first time a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the war in Gaza following months of deadlock over the issue.

Fourteen council members, including the UK, voted in favour of the text, which also demanded the unconditional release of all remaining hostages and an urgent expansion of humanitarian aid deliveries.

The US – Israel’s closest ally and military supporter – criticised the resolution for failing to condemn Hamas for the 7 October attacks.

But in a sign of its increasing frustration at the way Israel is conducting the war, the US abstained, saying it fully supported the key objectives.

In protest, Israel cancelled a planned visit by an Israeli delegation to Washington to discuss its planned ground offensive in the southern city of Rafah, where more than a million people have sought shelter. The US has warned that a full-scale assault could cause a humanitarian catastrophe.

Later, Hamas put out a statement rejecting the latest truce plan put forward by mediators from the US, Qatar and Egypt at indirect talks in Doha.

The group said it was sticking to its original demands for “a permanent ceasefire that would lead to a full withdrawal” of Israeli forces from Gaza and the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes.

UK envoy to the UN Barbara Woodward and Algeria's envoy Amar Bendjama vote in favour of a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, at the UN's headquarters in New York (25 March 2024)

Image source, Reuters

On Tuesday morning, the Israeli prime minister’s office said Hamas’s stance “clearly demonstrates its utter disinterest in a negotiated deal and attests to the damage done by the UN Security Council’s resolution”.

“Israel will not address Hamas’s delusional demands,” it added. “Israel will pursue and achieve its just war objectives: Destroying Hamas’s military and governmental capacities, release of all the hostages, and ensuring Gaza will not pose a threat to the people of Israel in the future.”

Hamas’s political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said during a visit to Iran – which arms and funds the group – that the resolution showed Israel was experiencing “unprecedented political isolation”.

“The description of the Hamas response reflects news reports and not the actual substance of that response, which was prepared before the UN vote even took place,” the official was quoted as saying.

Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman, Majed al-Ansari, told a news conference in Doha that the indirect talks “are ongoing, they have not stopped”.

“There is no timetable for negotiations, but we are continuing with our partners in mediation efforts,” he said, adding that they were currently taking place “at the level of technical teams”.

However, Israeli media and Reuters news agency cited Israeli officials as saying that Israel had recalled its negotiating team from Qatar after 10 days of talks.

On the ground in Gaza, the latest Israeli air strikes reportedly killed dozens of Palestinians.

Palestinian media and local health officials said at least 18 people, including nine children, were killed in a strike on a residential building on the outskirts of Rafah. They said the home in the Musabah area belonged to the Abu Naqira family and that dozens of displaced people had been sheltering there.

In northern Gaza, members of the Abu Hasira family told Reuters news agency that about 30 people had been killed in a strike on a family compound near Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa also cited medical sources as saying that 30 people had died.

Israel’s military said on Tuesday morning that it had struck 60 targets over the previous 24 hours, including “terror tunnels, terrorist infrastructure, and military structures in which armed terrorists were identified”.

It also said that Israeli forces were “continuing to conduct precise operational activity in the al-Shifa hospital area, while preventing harm to civilians, patients, medical teams, and medical equipment”.

Palestinians and aid groups say the fierce fighting is endangering those trapped inside the hospital, where the military says troops have killed 175 “terrorists” and detained 500 suspects since the start of a raid eight days ago.

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