Hamas sets new aid conditions

People inspect the damage following Israeli bombardment in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip. Picture: AFP

People inspect the damage following Israeli bombardment in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip. Picture: AFP

Published Jan 18, 2024


A top Hamas official announced new conditions on Wednesday for delivering medicines to hostages held by the group in Gaza, insisting trucks carrying the drugs must not be inspected by Israel.

Under a deal thrashed out by mediators Qatar and France on Tuesday, medicines along with humanitarian aid are to be supplied to civilians in Gaza in exchange for delivering drugs needed by hostages held there.

Forty-five hostages are expected to receive medication.

On Wednesday, Musa Abu Marzuk, a senior member of the Hamas political bureau, revealed new conditions for the delivery of medicines to hostages.

“For every box of medicine that goes in for them, 1 000 boxes will go in for residents of Gaza,” he said on X.

Marzuk said the medicines would be supplied through a country Hamas trusts and not France.

“The medicines will be supplied to different hospitals,” he said. “The pharmaceutical trucks will enter without Israeli inspection.”

All aid deliveries which enter the Gaza Strip are subjected to Israeli scrutiny. Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy did not comment on the latest Hamas conditions.

A security source in Egypt said a Qatari plane carrying medicines had arrived on Wednesday in the Egyptian city of El-Arish near the Rafah border crossing. France said the drugs would be sent to a hospital in Rafah where they would be handed over to the Red Cross and divided into batches before being transferred to the hostages.

Hamas released dozens of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a November truce mediated by Qatar, which hosts the group’s political office.

About 250 people were taken to Gaza by Palestinian militants during the October 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israeli communities. Israeli officials say 132 of them were still being held captive in the territory, including 27 who are believed to have been killed.

The October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of around 1 140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on the latest Israeli figures.

Since then Israeli has launched a blistering assault in Gaza that has killed at least 24 448 people, more than 70% of them women, children and adolescents, according to the territory’s health ministry.

Israel’s Hostages and Missing Families Forum, an advocacy group for the victims’ families, has said at least a third of the abductees have chronic illnesses and require immediate medications. In a report released last week, the forum added that “others suffer from illnesses related to the harsh captivity conditions, which include mental and physical torture”.

On Wednesday, the Israeli army said it killed a top Palestinian militant in an air strike in the occupied West Bank, averting a “terrorist attack” he was planning.

Ahmed Abdullah Abu Shalal had been responsible for a “number of terrorist attacks” over the past year, including one in annexed east Jerusalem, the army said. He was “eliminated in a precision air strike”, it said.

An AFP correspondent saw a pile of debris and mangled remains of a car hit in the strike near the Balata camp in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Camp resident Sajed Hazeem said he was woken by a loud explosion.

Minutes after the blast, an ambulance arrived at the scene but its access to the car was blocked by Israeli troops who arrived at the same time, Hazeem said.

The Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah said the body of an “unidentified martyr killed by the occupation (Israel) in a bombing of a vehicle” had been received by a hospital in Nablus.

Meanwhile, US senators this week rejected a resolution that would have forced President Joe Biden’s administration to look into potential human rights abuses perpetrated by Israel in its military campaign in Gaza.

Just 11 senators supported moving to a vote on the resolution, even as the Jewish state faces allegations of genocide in its war in the Gaza Strip.

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, forced the vote using a mechanism in US foreign assistance law that can require the State Department to look into the human rights practices of nations receiving US aid. The resolution would have required the department to produce a report within 30 days about any potential abuses.

“A vote against this resolution says, ‘I don’t want more information,’’ Sanders argued. “I want to keep my head in the sand.’’

AFP, IANS and The Washington Post