Ahead of Ramadan: Pressure on Israel and Hamas Increases

For weeks, international mediators — most notably Qatar, the United States and Egypt — have been trying to reach a ceasefire before the start of Ramadan. Talks continued in Cairo over the weekend and are scheduled to continue on Monday. Egyptian state television said on Monday that it was “significant progress”.

The start of Ramadan puts both Hamas and Israel under pressure, said ORF correspondent Karim El-Kawhari. The people of Gaza are desperate for humanitarian aid. Accordingly, Hamas demanded – at least for its position in the Gaza Strip – at least 500 truckloads of aid deliveries per day. That would be the situation before the war. Palestinians starving during Ramadan celebrations will put Israel in trouble internationally and especially in the Islamic world, El-Kawhari told the Ö1 Morning Journal on Monday.

Netanyahu: “We will not surrender”

Negotiations to end fighting in Gaza remain on the table for six weeks. Hamas is expected to release 40 Israeli hostages in exchange for 400 Palestinians in Israeli custody. However, both sides are making further demands.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for Hamas to capitulate ahead of a new round of talks on the hostage deal. “We are making great efforts to win, but one thing is clear to you: We will not give in to the illusory demands of Hamas,” he said in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening.

Netanyahu was adamant. It is too early to say whether there will be a concept for a deal in the next few days. He rejects “international pressure to end the war” before Israel achieves all its goals. With or without a New Deal, “we will fight until total victory.” According to a Haaretz report on Monday, right-wing extremist police minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called for a halt to the talks. Instead, it was necessary to move to “a new phase of intense fighting.”

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Hamas does not want to publish a list of hostages

The negotiations have reached an impasse. Israel, for example, maintains a list of Palestinians it should not release and requests information on hostages. Hamas wants to give this once the cease-fire takes effect. Therefore, no Israeli delegation will participate in Monday's talks.

The London-based Qatari daily Al Arabi Al Jadid quoted a senior Hamas official as saying his organization would not be forced to release the hostage list: “There is a high price to pay, in the form of alleviating suffering. People in Gaza and a comprehensive ceasefire.” In an interview with the BBC, a Hamas political official said that no list could be presented because Hamas itself did not know who among the hostages was still alive and where they would find them.

Cairo: Renegotiation of Hostage Bargain

Negotiations on a hostage deal and a cease-fire in the Gaza war continue in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. Israel is currently not participating in the talks.

According to Israeli media reports, there are doubts whether a deal is still possible before the start of Ramadan. Accordingly, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Jahja Sinwar, is deliberately trying to sabotage the talks during the fasting month, causing unrest throughout the Middle East.

Harris: “No excuses”

In the United States, Israel's closest ally, the tone toward Israel grew more tense. US Vice President Kamala Harris called for an immediate ceasefire on Sunday: “Our hearts break for all the innocent people in Gaza (…) A humanitarian disaster is evident.” Conditions are inhumane. He called on Israel to allow significantly more aid into the coastal zone and to open new border crossings. There are “no excuses” for this.

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Harris will meet Netanyahu's rival and Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Ganz on Monday. He traveled to Washington without Netanyahu's permission, which, according to media reports, sparked internal criticism. In contrast to Netanyahu, Gans is pushing for an agreement. Freeing the hostages is more urgent than destroying Hamas, which Netanyahu has declared his goal. A meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is scheduled for Tuesday.

Turk warns of wildfires

UN Human Rights Commissioner Volker Durk told the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday that everything must be done to prevent a major outbreak. The war between Israel and Hamas has already spread to neighboring countries: “I am deeply concerned that any spark in this powder will lead to a much bigger conflagration.”

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