While there are signs of rapprochement in the Gaza war between Israel and the Islamist Hamas after months of wrangling over a ceasefire, the Jewish state is coming under increasing pressure over its conduct of the war. According to media reports, during indirect negotiations in Qatar, Israel agreed to approach Hamas and release hundreds more Palestinian prisoners than had previously been agreed to in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages. We are now talking about 700 and even up to 800 prisoners.

While a response from Hamas is expected in the next two days, the UN Security Council is set to vote this Monday on a draft resolution that would call for an “immediate ceasefire respected by all sides.” On the same day, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock begins new crisis talks in Egypt, then continues to Israel.

USA does not rule out consequences of Rafah offensive

The US government is not ruling out consequences if Israel’s army actually invades the city of Rafah on the border with Egypt, which is currently overcrowded with hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, as part of a ground offensive. “I’m not ruling anything out,” US Vice President Kamala Harris replied to a question in a TV interview. “We have made it clear in several conversations and in every way that any major military operation in Rafah would be a big mistake.” She did not give any details about possible consequences.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Minister Joav Galant is heading to the USA, where he wants to meet, among other things, his counterpart Lloyd Austin. At the same time, another Israeli delegation is expected in Washington. The US government wants to show visitors ways in which Hamas can be defeated without a Rafah offensive.

Baerbock demands that Israel and Hamas give in

Baerbock also reiterated her concerns about the attack on Rafah announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Bundestag on Thursday. She expressed doubts as to whether it would even be possible to protect civilians in the event of a possible offensive. After all, 1.5 million people “couldn’t just disappear into thin air,” she emphasized.

Baerbock wants to visit the Palestinian territories on Monday after talks in Egypt and meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Riad Malki in Ramallah. On Tuesday morning she will meet her Israeli counterpart Israel Katz. She demanded that Israel and Hamas give in to the negotiations taking place in Qatar. “Only an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that leads to a permanent ceasefire will keep hope for peace alive – for Palestinians and Israelis alike,” said Baerbock.

UN Security Council votes on call for ceasefire

At the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East on Monday, a resolution is to be voted on that calls for an immediate ceasefire in view of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and that should lead to a “permanent and sustainable ceasefire”, as stated in the statement on Friday The proposed resolution that has become known is called. It also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and emphasizes the need to increase aid deliveries to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. The resolution is being pushed by non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. A diplomat said there was hope that the latest version of the text could actually be successful after intensive negotiations, especially with the veto power USA.

Report: Israel ready to release hundreds of Palestinians

Meanwhile, according to media reports, there is new movement in the difficult negotiations between the mediators, which have been going on for several months. Israel is prepared to partially respond to Hamas’ demands, wrote the usually well-informed Israeli journalist Barak Ravid in the news portal “Walla” and on the X platform, formerly Twitter. The Jewish state would now release 700 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons if Hamas released 40 of around 100 Israeli hostages still alive. Among the Palestinians to be released would be 100 prisoners who received life sentences for terrorist crimes.

The indirect negotiations are currently underway in the Qatari capital Doha with the mediation of the USA, Egypt and Qatar. They aim for an agreement in several phases. The first step would involve a six-week ceasefire and the release of 40 hostages held by Hamas. The original proposal, which Israel accepted, would have included the release of 400 Palestinian prisoners, including 25 with life sentences. This did not go far enough for Hamas. The new formula was proposed by Qatar and initially rejected by Israel. Ravid continued to write that Israel had changed its mind in the last few days at the urging of CIA chief William Burns, who had traveled to Doha especially.

Report: Israel faces endless guerrilla war

Meanwhile, Israel’s army is in danger of being drawn into an endless guerrilla war by Hamas due to a lack of a clear strategy, as the “Wall Street Journal” writes. The Israeli armed forces are fighting in more and more places in the Gaza Strip that they had previously taken and from which they had withdrawn, the US newspaper reported. This shows how hard Israel is fighting to eliminate Hamas and bring the Palestinian coastal area under its control.

The Israeli army said it began a new military operation in Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip on Sunday. An Israeli soldier was killed during another operation at Shifa Hospital in the northern city of Gaza. The army had already been involved in fighting in these locations in recent months and had said that the Hamas formations in these areas had been defeated and disbanded.

According to a media report, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also warned Israel not to continue the war without a clear strategy. Israel needs a coherent plan, otherwise it will get tangled up in an uprising that it will not be able to get under control, Blinken said last week at a meeting with Netanyahu and his war cabinet, the news portal “Axios” reported.

If the war continues as before, Hamas would remain in control of the Gaza Strip or anarchy would break out, resulting in even more terror. Netanyahu responded that “we will have our hands full for decades,” the news portal reported.