Gaza Ceasefire… Egypt Doubts Israel’s Intention to Conclude Deal

Palestinian women walk next to destroyed houses following Israeli military operation in Al Maghazi refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 17 February 2024. (EPA)
Palestinian women walk next to destroyed houses following Israeli military operation in Al Maghazi refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 17 February 2024. (EPA)
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Gaza Ceasefire… Egypt Doubts Israel’s Intention to Conclude Deal

Palestinian women walk next to destroyed houses following Israeli military operation in Al Maghazi refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 17 February 2024. (EPA)
Palestinian women walk next to destroyed houses following Israeli military operation in Al Maghazi refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 17 February 2024. (EPA)

While the Israeli government on Thursday directed its negotiators to resume talks on a Gaza ceasefire and hostage swap deal, Egypt doubted Israel’s seriousness about concluding a “deal” with Hamas.
“The Israeli position is still not ready for a ceasefire and hostage swap deal,” a high-ranking Egyptian source told the Cairo News channel.
Earlier, media reports said the Israeli government decided to resume the “Gaza truce” negotiations and a hostage swap deal.
This came after Diaa Rashwan, head of the Egyptian State Information Service, said on Wednesday night that “Attempts to cast doubt and offend Egypt’s mediation efforts... will only lead to further complications of the situation in Gaza and the entire region and may push Egypt to completely withdraw from its mediation in the current conflict.”
Several experts told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that Egypt’s threats could have pushed Israel to resume talks with mediators.
However, they doubted the seriousness of Israel's sudden decision to continue negotiations, describing the move as “a new maneuver that serves Israel’s own interests.”
Hamas has lately accepted a proposal by mediators for a ceasefire and prisoner exchange. But, Israel said the proposal remained “far from” meeting its demands and warned its military operations in Rafah would continue.
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement: “The war cabinet has instructed the negotiation team to continue negotiations to return the hostages.”
The Walla website reported that Israel has also presented “amended guidelines for its negotiating team.”
However, it neither revealed details or explained the reasons for Israel’s sudden decision to continue negotiations. The website also failed to say whether the Israel negotiating team carries a new proposal or has returned with amendments to Cairo’s previous proposal.
On Thursday, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in an interview that Egypt is “an important country for Israel.”
Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been for months trying to strike a phased agreement between Israel and Hamas that would lead to truce in Gaza and the gradual release of Israeli hostages held in the territory.
Former Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister, Ambassador Rakha Ahmed Hassan, considered Israel's sudden return to negotiations as a new US-Israeli maneuver to face international condemnations for the failure of both countries to reach a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
“Israel wants to continue negotiations for its own interests,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Hassan also said that the Israeli negotiation team might return for talks with new proposals, different from the Cairo initiative that was supposed to be implemented in three phases.
He assumed that Egypt’s threats could have pushed this new course of negotiations.
The threats of the head of the State Information Service, to completely withdraw from mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas, have pushed the Israeli government to direct its negotiation team to continue negotiations, Hassan noted.
He then affirmed that negotiations will resume soon.
“Cairo will adhere to clear points related to the Israeli withdrawal from the Rafah crossing and the Salah al-Din (Philadelphia) axis to bring about serious talks,” Hassan said.
In return, Bashir Abdel-Fattah, a Researcher at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that Israel's return to negotiations should not be accompanied by optimism.
“Israel is only trying to buy time and show the world its faith in peace,” he said.

 



US Military Targets Houthi Radar Sites in Yemen

In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
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US Military Targets Houthi Radar Sites in Yemen

In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)

The United States military unleashed a wave of attacks targeting radar sites operated by Yemen's Houthi militants over their assaults on shipping in the crucial Red Sea corridor, authorities said Saturday, after one merchant sailor went missing following an earlier Houthi strike on a ship.
The attacks come as the US Navy faces the most intense combat it has seen since World War II in trying to counter the Houthi campaign — attacks the militants say are meant to halt the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
However, the Iranian-backed group assaults often see the Houthis target ships and sailors who have nothing to do with the war while traffic remains halved through a corridor vital for cargo and energy shipments between Asia, Europe and the Mideast.
US strikes destroyed seven radars within Houthi-controlled territory, the military's Central Command said. It did not elaborate on how the sites were destroyed and did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.
“These radars allow the Houthis to target maritime vessels and endanger commercial shipping,” Central Command said in a statement.
The US separately destroyed two bomb-laden drone boats in the Red Sea, as well as a drone launched by the Houthis over the waterway, it said.
The Houthis, who have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since 2014, did not acknowledge the strikes, nor any military losses. That's been typical since the US began launching airstrikes targeting the group.
Meanwhile, Central Command said one commercial sailor from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk cargo carrier Tutor remained missing after an attack Wednesday by the Houthis that used a bomb-carrying drone boat to strike the vessel.
“The crew abandoned ship and were rescued by USS Philippine Sea and partner forces,” Central Command said. The “Tutor remains in the Red Sea and is slowly taking on water.”
The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.
The war in the Gaza Strip has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians there, according to Gaza health officials, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.
“The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third-country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza,” Central Command said. “The ongoing threat to international commerce caused by the Houthis in fact makes it harder to deliver badly needed assistance to the people of Yemen as well as Gaza.”