World’s Largest Humanitarian Network Calls for Gaza Ceasefire 

A beam of light is seen in northern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from Israel, May 28, 2024. (Reuters)
A beam of light is seen in northern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from Israel, May 28, 2024. (Reuters)
TT

World’s Largest Humanitarian Network Calls for Gaza Ceasefire 

A beam of light is seen in northern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from Israel, May 28, 2024. (Reuters)
A beam of light is seen in northern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from Israel, May 28, 2024. (Reuters)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) called on Wednesday for a ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip, where millions of people face worsening hunger.

The war-torn enclave is suffering from a humanitarian catastrophe nearly seven months after Israel launched a devastating offensive in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks that killed 1,200 people in Israel.

"We desperately need a political solution that will allow us to have a ceasefire to get aid in," IFRC President Kate Forbes told Reuters in an interview in the capital, Manila.

"We're ready to make a difference. We have to have access, and to have access there has to have a ceasefire," said Forbes, who in December became the second woman to ever hold the top job at the world's largest humanitarian network.

The IFRC president is a volunteer position and oversees a network that unites 191 organizations working during and after disasters and wars, such as the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which has ambulance crews in Gaza.

Forbes said she had seen the "atrocious" situation in Rafah during a visit in February, months before Israel launched a military assault on the southern Gaza city, which had been sheltering more than a million Palestinians who fled assaults on other parts of the enclave.

"There was not enough housing. There was no water, there weren't enough sanitation toilets. We had a hospital with no equipment... and unfortunately what I was afraid of has happened, and that there wasn't going to be enough food," Forbes said.

Prospects for a resumption of mediated Gaza ceasefire talks grew over the weekend, even as Israel pressed on with its offensive in Gaza to eliminate the Palestinian armed group Hamas after the top United Nations court ordered Israel on Friday to stop attacking Rafah.

Hamas has denied reports that talks would resume earlier this week. Both sides have blamed the other for the deadlock. Israel has said it cannot accept Hamas' demand to end the war, while the Palestinians want Palestinian prisoners to be released.

"I plead with the governments on all sides to negotiate a ceasefire so that we can get aid in," Forbes said.

"My job is to ensure that when it (ceasefire) happens, we can give the aid that's necessary. And so they need to do their jobs so I can do my job," she added.



White House: Qatar and Egypt Plan Talks with Hamas on Gaza Ceasefire

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
TT

White House: Qatar and Egypt Plan Talks with Hamas on Gaza Ceasefire

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday that mediators for Qatar and Egypt plan to engage Hamas militants soon to see if there is a way to push ahead with a Gaza ceasefire proposal offered by US President Joe Biden.

Sullivan spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a Ukraine peace summit and was asked about diplomatic efforts to get an agreement for Hamas to release some hostages held since Oct. 7 in exchange for a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks.

Sullivan said he had spoken briefly to one of the main interlocutors, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and that they would speak again about Gaza on Sunday while both are in Switzerland for the Ukraine conference, Reuters reported.

Hamas has welcomed the ceasefire proposal, but insists any agreement must secure an end to the war, a demand Israel still rejects. Israel described Hamas's response to the new US peace proposal as total rejection.

Sullivan said that US officials have taken a close look at Hamas's response.

"We think some of the edits are not unexpected and can be managed. Some of them are inconsistent both with what President Biden laid out and what the UN Security Council endorsed. And we are having to deal with that reality," he said.

He said US officials believe there remains an avenue to an agreement and that the next step will be for Qatari and Egyptian mediators to talk to Hamas and "go through what can be worked with and what really can’t be worked with."

"We anticipate a back-and-forth between the mediators and Hamas. We’ll see where we stand at that point. We will keep consulting with the Israelis and then hopefully at some point next week we’ll be able to report to you where we think things stand and what we see as being the next step to try to bring this to closure," he said.