Joe Biden announced that an agreement to release hostages held in Gaza, accompanied by a truce “of at least six weeks”, was currently under discussion.
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A truce in Gaza or a catastrophe in Rafah? The situation in the Middle East is at a peak on Monday February 12. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his army to prepare an offensive on Rafah, on the border with Egypt, where 1.4 million Palestinians are currently massing, according to the UN. At the same time, Joe Biden announced that an agreement to release hostages held in Gaza, accompanied by a pause “at least six weeks” in the hostilities between Israel and Hamas, was currently under discussion. Here is what to remember from February 12.
Hope for a truce between Israel and Hamas
Joe Biden announced, Monday, February 12, that an agreement to release hostages held in Gaza, accompanied by a pause of “at least six weeks” in hostilities between Israel and Hamas, was currently under discussion. The American president, repeating the warning already issued several times by his administration, also indicated that it “must protect” Palestinian civilians in Rafah in the event of an Israeli offensive on this town in the south of the enclave.
The King of Jordan Abdullah II, during a joint speech with Joe Biden at the White House, declared, for his part, that he “a lasting ceasefire was needed immediately” in Gaza.
Worries of disaster in Rafah
The prospect of an offensive in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, is “terrifying”was alarmed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, while the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim Khan said he was “deeply concerned” of the fate of civilians. The city is currently the last urban center where the Israeli army has not yet launched a ground assault. However, on Wednesday February 7, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, “ordered the Israeli Defense Forces to prepare an operation in Rafah as well as in two camps [de réfugiés]the last remaining bastions of Hamas”.
Hamas warned on Sunday that an offensive on Rafah “torpedo” any agreement on the hostages, while talks on a new truce are led by Egypt and Qatar.
Two hostages released
Two hostages were freed by the Israeli army during the night from Sunday to Monday. “Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were recovered during a nighttime operation in Rafah carried out jointly by the army, the Shin Beth [Sécurité intérieure] and the Israeli police., according to a press release from these three services. Abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7, the two men were taken to the Sheba Medical Center, in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, for initial medical examinations.
“They are in stable condition”described the director of the establishment. “Only the continuation of military pressure” up to the “victory” will free “all our hostages” in the Gaza Strip, responded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.