Israel’s attack on Gaza. (file photo)
Amid the Israel-Hamas war, an American official has given a big statement. White House Deputy National Security Advisor John Finer said on Sunday that an agreement to secure the release of some hostages held by Hamas militants in Gaza is closer than ever. John Finer said the agreement to release more than 12 hostages would likely also include a ceasefire in fighting and allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Let us tell you that the fighting intensified on Sunday, as Hamas terrorists were battling Israeli forces trying to enter Gaza’s largest refugee camp. A day later, Israeli and American officials denied the Washington Post report that an agreement had been reached.
closer to agreement
“What I can say at this point is that some excellent areas of disagreement have been narrowed down in a very complex, very sensitive conversation,” Finer said on NBC’s Meet the Press. He said that I believe that we are closer to completing this deal than we have been in some time, perhaps closer than we have been since the beginning of this process.
Hostages can be released
Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, also said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that Israel expects a large number of hostages to be released by Hamas in the coming days. But Finer cautioned that unless everything is agreed upon, such sensitive talks could fail at the last minute.
240 people taken hostage
Hamas took about 240 people hostage during its deadly cross-border attacks on Israeli communities on October 7. The attack forced Israel to siege Gaza and invade the Palestinian territory to eliminate its ruling Islamist group. Finer told NBC that we are talking about more than 12 (hostages).
protection of palestinian citizens
He said this could involve a prolonged pause in fighting, lasting several days. We believe this will enable us to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza. This is a priority in any situation. Finer also said Israel should not conduct combat operations against Hamas south of Gaza unless military planners take into account the safety of fleeing Palestinian civilians.
Possibility of launching a war campaign
“In a situation where Israel has the possibility of launching a combat operation, including in the south, we believe they have the right to do so,” Finer told CBS’ Face the Nation program in a separate interview. He said that we believe that their campaign should not proceed until those people, those additional civilians, are included in their military planning.
Israel’s attack has reduced parts of the north to rubble, while nearly two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million population has been displaced to the south. Gaza’s Health Ministry has increased the death toll from Israeli bombing to 12,300, including 5,000 children.
Citizens warned to move
Finer urged Israel to learn from its military operations north of Gaza and provide increased protection for civilians by reducing the area of active combat and specifying where civilians can seek shelter. On Saturday, Israel warned civilians in parts of southern Gaza to evacuate as it prepared for an attack from the north. Palestinians say the south has been repeatedly bombed by Israel, making Israeli promises of security redundant.