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Diplomatic Efforts Continue Amid Escalating Gaza Conflict

The United Nations Security Council has delayed a crucial vote on a resolution aimed at increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Simultaneously, negotiations in Egypt are ongoing to broker a new truce between Israel and Hamas, with the hope of securing the release of hostages.

U.S. Support for Amended Proposal

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The delay in the U.N. vote comes despite the United States indicating its support for an amended proposal. This revised resolution seeks to demand that both Israel and Hamas allow the use of “all available routes” for humanitarian deliveries.

Escalation of Conflict

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While diplomatic efforts continue, the conflict in the Gaza Strip has intensified. Israeli airstrikes targeted both northern and southern regions of the Palestinian territory, while Hamas responded by launching rockets towards Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital.

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Claim of Responsibility

Credit: Military parade of the Al-Qassam Brigades in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. May 29, 2021 – Gaza Strip, Palestinian Territories: Gunmen from the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian movement Hamas — Photo by thenews2.com

Iraq’s Kataeb Hezbollah, also known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, claimed responsibility for an attack on Israel’s Eilat. However, Israel has not issued an immediate response to this claim.

Tragic Loss of Life

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thenews2.com

Thursday witnessed tragic events as Israeli forces were responsible for the deaths of 14 Palestinians in three separate attacks across the northern, central, and southern Gaza Strip. Among the casualties were the Hamas-appointed director of the police station in Khan Younis and members of his family.

Targeted Strike on Health Official

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An Israeli airstrike targeted the residence of Dr. Munir Al-Bursh, the director of Gaza’s Health Ministry. Dr. Bursh sustained injuries, and tragically, one of his daughters lost her life in the attack.

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Differing Motives

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Israel’s government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has expressed its aim to eliminate Hamas, the Islamist group responsible for infiltrating southern Israel on October 7, taking hostages and causing casualties.

International Condemnation

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The high death toll, approximately 20,000 according to Gaza’s health ministry, during Israel’s retaliatory military campaign has drawn significant international condemnation.

Claims and Counterclaims

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While the Israeli military expressed regret for civilian casualties, it attributed blame to Iran-backed Hamas for operating in densely populated areas and using civilians as human shields—an accusation that Hamas denies.

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Deadliest Period for Journalists

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According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CP), the first 10 weeks of the conflict have been the deadliest for journalists. Out of 68 journalists and media workers killed, 61 were Palestinian.

Ongoing Negotiations

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Efforts to prevent a U.S. veto of the United Nations Security Council resolution have continued. This resolution, drafted by the United Arab Emirates, calls for Israel and Hamas to allow humanitarian aid deliveries via all land, sea, and air routes throughout Gaza.

Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

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The temporary humanitarian pause from November 24 to December 1 facilitated increased aid deliveries to Gaza. However, a UN-backed report has raised concerns, indicating that the entire population of Gaza is facing crisis-level hunger, with the risk of famine growing each day.

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Hostage Release Stalemate

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The humanitarian pause also resulted in the release of over 100 hostages held by Hamas since October 7, with 240 Palestinians freed from Israeli jails in exchange.

Stalemate on Hostage and Prisoner Exchanges

Credit: Hamas holds military parade to remember Israel’s 2014 offensive. July 20, 2022, Gaza Strip, Palestine: Brigadiers from Al-Qassam, the military wing of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas — Photo by thenews2.com

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have declared their rejection of any hostage and prisoner exchange deals until there is a complete cessation of aggression by Israel.

Hamas Leader in Cairo

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Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was in Cairo for a second day of negotiations, but the details of these discussions remain undisclosed.

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Ongoing Negotiations for Hostage Release

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Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen confirmed that negotiations for the release of hostages are still ongoing, though specific details were not provided.

Red Sea Shipping Concerns

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Governments worldwide are increasingly concerned that the Gaza conflict could escalate and impact the broader region. Recent exchanges of fire between Iran-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and Israeli forces have raised alarm. Additionally, Houthi militants in Yemen, also backed by Iran, have targeted ships in the lower Red Sea, heightening the risk of trade disruption.

Shipping Companies Avoid Red Sea

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As a result of these concerns, shipping companies such as Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd and Hong Kong’s OOCL have announced their plans to avoid the Red Sea. This decision follows a series of attacks by the Houthi group.

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Multinational Safeguard Initiative

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To counter the growing maritime threats, a U.S.-led coalition has been established to safeguard commercial traffic in the Red Sea. Over 20 countries have agreed to participate in this initiative, although some have chosen to remain unnamed publicly.

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