Published: 12:30, February 18, 2024 | Updated: 13:13, February 18, 2024
Hamas: Israel obstructing efforts to reach ceasefire in Gaza
By Xinhua

Smoke rises after an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on Feb 15, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

GAZA / MUNICH - Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday accused Israel of impeding efforts to achieve a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

In a press statement sent to Xinhua, Haniyeh said that his movement responded to efforts of mediation "all the time in a positive spirit and high responsibility" in order to "stop the aggression against our people, end the unjust siege, and allow the flow of aid and reconstruction."

"We showed full flexibility in dealing with these issues, but it is clear so far that Israel continues to procrastinate in the negotiations," he added.

Top international organizations and government officials called for a permanent settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the ongoing 60th Munich Security Conference, saying that only the two-state solution can make the region achieve lasting security

"The Palestinian factions will not accept anything less than a complete cessation of aggression, the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip, the lifting of the siege, the return of the displaced, especially to the north of the Gaza Strip, an end to the starvation policy, and a commitment to reconstruction," said the Hamas leader, stressing that these are "humanitarian requirements and a matter of consensus in the United Nations, human rights institutions, and the decision of the International Court of Justice."

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Haniyeh also noted that his movement "will work by all means available to stop the bloodbath carried out by the enemy against our defenseless people."

At least 40 Palestinians were killed and many others injured on Saturday in Israeli airstrikes that targeted residential homes in the central Gaza Strip.

Palestinian medical sources told Xinhua that Israeli warplanes launched a series of violent raids on several homes in the areas of Nuseirat, Al-Zawaida, and Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, killing dozens of people and wounding many others.

The sources added that civil defense crews were able to recover 40 bodies, while dozens remained under the rubble, noting that the dead and wounded were transferred to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the city of Deir el-Balah.

The Ministry of Health, run by Hamas in Gaza, announced that the number of Palestinian deaths had risen to 28,858 since the start of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip on Oct 7, 2023.

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Israel is launching a large-scale military war on the Gaza Strip for the fifth month in a row after Hamas carried out a sudden and unprecedented attack on the Israeli towns adjacent to the Strip, killing about 1,200 Israelis and taking more than 200 hostages.

Meanwhile, top international organizations and government officials called for a permanent settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the ongoing 60th Munich Security Conference, saying that only the two-state solution can make the region achieve lasting security.

Addressing the conference at its opening ceremony on Friday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his call for peace and better global order, highlighting the two-state solution to the crisis.

He said that the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and a humanitarian ceasefire are the only way to massively scale up aid delivery in Gaza, and thus will lay the foundation for concrete and irreversible steps towards a two-state solution.

An injured man is transferred to a hospital in central Gaza Strip city of Deir el-Balah, on Feb 17, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, expressed strong concern over the humanitarian situation and the wider consequences for the region. He emphasized the need to lower regional tensions and promote international efforts towards a two-state solution.

During a meeting here with Guterres, Borrell also underlined the need for increased EU cooperation with the UN in striving towards a two-state solution.

In his address at the conference, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also supported the two-state solution, saying that is the key for both Israel and Palestine to get out of the conflict and have a peaceful future.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said at a penal discussion that eventually, there has to be a permanent fix, a long-term fix to the conflict, otherwise "we're going to see a recurrence."

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"India has long believed in a two-state solution. We have maintained that position for many decades. And I think today many more countries in the world feel that not just the two-state solution is necessary, but it is more urgent than it was before," he said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told the audience at the MSC that he was firmly convinced that the only pathway towards security and stability for everyone in the region is through a Palestinian state.

Addressing a panel discussion on the Middle East situation, Faisal said that the greater the consensus in the international community on the two-state solution, the closer the world will get to it.

An injured girl is transferred to a hospital in central Gaza Strip city of Deir el-Balah, on Feb 17, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

"We agree that the two-state solution is the right solution. And it's now time to put all of our efforts into making that happen," he stressed, adding that "we cannot hold the future of our region, the future of our generations hostage to politics or ideology, and we must push to move forward."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said at the panel discussion that part of the reasons behind the failure of talks on the two-state solution in the past was the lack of political will.

"I think we are totally committed and convinced that this is the only solution, a viable solution that can bring the region out of this cycle of violence and create normal conditions for everyone to prosper and to live in peace," he said.

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Qatar's Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that what's happening now represents "a wake-up call" that the situation was not sustainable and "we need to step up and to look at a better future for the people in the region."

The two-state solution guarantees an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.