The indirect negotiations between Israel and the Islamist Hamas over a ceasefire in the Gaza war and the release of further hostages are apparently set to continue on Sunday in Cairo.

The state-affiliated Egyptian broadcaster Al-Kahira News reported this on Saturday, citing an Egyptian security representative. For weeks, the USA, Qatar and Egypt have been mediating between Israel and the Islamist Hamas in order to achieve a ceasefire and an exchange of hostages kidnapped from Israel for Palestinian prisoners. Israel and Hamas do not negotiate directly.

According to media reports, the Israeli delegation was ordered back from Qatar a few days ago, except for a small team. The reason was that Hamas had rejected a compromise proposal from the USA. The terrorist organization insists on a comprehensive ceasefire, including a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israel rejects this. Israel’s goal is to destroy Hamas.

Three ships with aid for Gaza continue their journeyA freighter and two smaller ships with hundreds of tons of aid for the suffering population in the Gaza Strip continued their journey to the Gaza Strip without any problems on Sunday. The German Press Agency learned this from Cypriot government circles. Experts on Cyprus radio said that because the sea along the route between Cyprus and Gaza is currently very calm, the freighter “Jennifer” and the tugs “Open Arms” and “Ledra Dynamic” are expected to arrive on Monday afternoon.

Discharging the cargo will be difficult. A temporary pier has been built at the point where aid will be brought ashore in Gaza. One of the two tugboats accompanying the cargo ship is pulling a platform with relief supplies behind it. This is intended to enable the aid delivery to be handed over at the pier. The Gaza Strip does not have a port that can accommodate larger ships and its coastal waters are shallow.

Operation in the Schifa Hospital continues

In the Gaza Strip, Israel continued its crackdown on Hamas and other terrorist groups in several locations on Saturday. The military said it killed several enemy fighters in Shifa Hospital in the city of Gaza. It confiscated weapons and liquidated Hamas fighting positions. The army has been deployed at the Shifa Clinic, the largest health facility in the coastal region, for almost two weeks.

Hamas had once again set up combat and command positions in the extensive area after the Israeli military stormed the hospital last November. It eliminated the Hamas positions in the complex and the tunnels underneath, but then withdrew again. In the current operation, the army says it killed around 200 Hamas fighters and arrested more than 500 terror suspects.

UN observer injured in explosion in Lebanon

Three UN observers were injured in an explosion in Lebanon. A Lebanese language assistant was also injured, according to the UN observation mission Unifil. The group was on foot patrol along the Blue Line – the border with Israel.

Lebanese reports spoke of an attack by the Israeli military. The army in Israel rejected the allegations. Unifil has been monitoring the border area between Israel and Lebanon since 1978. UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the explosion. The incident is being investigated.

Since the beginning of the Gaza war, there have been daily, sometimes deadly, confrontations between Israel’s army and militant groups such as Hezbollah. On Saturday, Hezbollah again claimed attacks on Israel.

Dispute over compulsory military service for strictly religious men endangers Israel’s coalition

Meanwhile, a domestic political drama is shaking the coalition of right-wing conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which also includes strict religious parties. From April 1, state subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men of military age will be eliminated, according to an interim order from the Supreme Court.

According to a decision by Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, the military is also obliged to conscript religious students, who have previously been largely exempt, from that date. According to media reports, there are more than 60,000 men. Strictly religious politicians sharply criticized the new instructions. The court is scheduled to discuss the matter further in May.

The dispute over compulsory military service in Israel, which has been going on for decades, has great political and social explosive power. A law allowing most ultra-Orthodox men not to serve in the army expired last year. The government has not yet managed to pass a new law; an alternative regulation expires at midnight.

In Israel, men have to do military service for three years and women for two years. The government coalition had already broken up in 2018 due to the dispute over a law that would gradually require more strictly religious men to serve as weapons.

Thousands of Israelis demonstrate against Netanyahu’s government

Thousands of Israelis demonstrated against the government on Saturday evening. In Tel Aviv, demonstrators demanded an early election and the release of the hostages held by Hamas.

There were also violent protests in other cities, including Jerusalem and Haifa. From today on, government opponents are also planning large-scale rallies in Jerusalem that will last for several days.

What is important today

Observers are looking forward to the expected continuation of indirect negotiations between Israel and the Islamist Hamas regarding a ceasefire in the Gaza war and the release of further hostages. Meanwhile, government opponents in Israel are planning further large-scale rallies.