Biden Tells Both Sides In Mideast War To Cut A Deal–Right Now.

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Negotiators including representatives from both Israel and Hamas began arriving in Cairo on Saturday for renewed negotiations for a cease-fire and the release and/or exchange of hostages as the war in Gaza reaches the six-month mark with no sign of an end in sight.

U.S. CIA Director Bill Burns arrived Saturday. Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and an Israeli delegation were expected to take part in the talks as well, Egypt’s Al Qahera news reported Saturday.

Hamas said in a statement that it is sending its deputy chief in Gaza, Khalil Al-Hayya. It also reiterated its core demands: a complete cease-fire in Gaza and the withdrawal of Israeli forces.

U.S. President Joe Biden wrote letters to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, on the state of the hostage talks, and “he urged them to secure commitments from Hamas to agree and abide by a deal,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said.

Biden also told Netanyahu to empower his negotiators in Cairo so that a deal can be reached as soon as possible, allowing more humanitarian aid to get into Gaza.

The Israel-Hamas war is considered one of the most destructive, deadly, and relentless conflicts of the 21st century.

“Six months on, the war in Gaza is a betrayal of humanity,” said Martin Griffiths, undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the United Nations.

In a statement Saturday, Griffiths acknowledged the pain and suffering of both Palestinians and Israelis since Hamas staged its October 7 terror attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people and claimed more than 240 hostages.

“For the people of Gaza, the past six months of war have brought death, devastation and now the immediate prospect of a shameful man-made famine,” Griffiths said, noting that for the people affected by the lasting horror of the Hamas attacks, “it has been six months of grief and torment.”

In his plea for a cease-fire, Griffiths said that “every second counts” as the war claims more civilian victims and “continues to sow the seeds of a future so deeply obscured by this relentless conflict.” Griffiths said any further escalation of the war in Gaza is an “unconscionable prospect.”

Since October 7, Israel has bombed the coastal strip, killing 33,137 people, including more than 13,000 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and The Associated Press without any sign of an imminent Hamas surrender.

Gaza’s health ministry doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count, but it says women and children have made up about two-thirds of those killed.

Seventy percent of the Palestinian population in Gaza has been displaced within the enclave, and about half of the population is clustered into Gaza’s southernmost city, Rafah.

With humanitarian aid barely trickling into Gaza as Israel blocks the routes by land and sea in an apparent attempt to starve out Hamas,  food is scarce on the ground in Gaza.

According to the U.N., famine conditions are  approaching, and few Palestinians have been able to leave the besieged territory. Thirty-one percent of children younger than 2 are acutely malnourished in northern Gaza.

As of February 14, 112 hostages were returned alive to Israel, with 105 being released in a prisoner exchange deal — four released by Hamas unilaterally and three rescued by the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF confirmed that 36 hostages have died in Hamas captivity.

Source: VOA.
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