Israel seeks Egyptian, Qatari mediation for new prisoner swap and truce deal with Hamas: Sources

Mohamed Samir
4 Min Read
(231212) -- GAZA, Dec. 12, 2023 (Xinhua) -- This photo taken on Dec. 11, 2023 shows temporary shelters near the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt. According to the UN, it is estimated that about 1.9 million people in Gaza, or approximately 85 percent of the population, are internally displaced. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

Israel has formally requested the mediation of Egypt and Qatar to facilitate a renewed prisoner exchange agreement with Hamas. Reliable sources intimately familiar with the matter disclosed this information to Daily News Egypt, underscoring a significant diplomatic development amid ongoing efforts to broker a humanitarian truce in Gaza.

This development unfolds against a backdrop of heightened tensions, as Israeli forces reportedly stormed the sole operational Kamal Adwan Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, the hospital had been under siege and bombardment for several days before the incursion.

In a stark revelation, Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qedra stated that Israeli soldiers ordered all men, including medical personnel, to assemble in the hospital courtyard, raising concerns about the potential arrest of medical staff. Al-Qedra urgently appealed to the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, urging immediate action to save and protect the lives of those within the besieged hospital.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza, in a distressing update on Tuesday, reported that the death toll of Palestinians resulting from Israeli bombings in the Gaza Strip since October 7 has surged to a staggering 18,412, with the majority being women and children. Additionally, over 50,000 individuals have been injured as the humanitarian situation in the strip deteriorates.

Disturbing video footage circulating online vividly illustrates the dire circumstances faced by Palestinians, forced to bury their dead under trees on road sidewalks in the northern Gaza Strip. 

These desperate measures are a direct consequence of the ongoing Israeli siege and relentless bombings, painting a bleak picture of the harrowing conditions endured by civilians caught in the crossfire.

Furthermore, Houthi rebels from Yemen claimed responsibility on Tuesday for an attack on a Norwegian ship carrying oil and en route to Israel in the Red Sea. The announcement came through a statement by Yehya Sarea, a Houthi military spokesman, broadcasted on the Houthi-run al-Masirah TV.

Sarea asserted that the Houthi forces resorted to targeting the Norwegian vessel only after its crew ignored repeated warning calls. He declared, “We will not hesitate to target any ship heading to Israel that rejects our warnings,” emphasizing that their armed forces had successfully thwarted several ships over the past two days in response to warnings.

Furthermore, the Houthi military spokesman conveyed a stern message, stating, “We will continue to prevent all ships from heading to the ports of the Israeli enemy unless food and medicine aid is allowed to enter the Gaza Strip.”

In a conflicting account, Britain’s Maritime Trade Operations agency reported that the attack occurred late on Monday, approximately 15 nautical miles west of the Yemeni port of Mokha, near the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait.

This incident marks the latest in a series of attacks on international waters in the Red Sea attributed to the Yemeni militia since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7. On November 19, Houthi fighters commandeered the commercial ship, Galaxy Leader, redirecting it to the Houthi-controlled Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

The Houthi group currently exerts control over substantial portions of northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa and the strategically vital Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

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Mohamed Samir Khedr is an economic and political journalist, analyst, and editor specializing in geopolitical conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, and the Eastern Mediterranean. For the past decade, he has covered Egypt's and the MENA region's financial, business, and geopolitical updates. Currently, he is the Executive Editor of the Daily News Egypt, where he leads a team of journalists in producing high-quality, in-depth reporting and analysis on the region's most pressing issues. His work has been featured in leading international publications. Samir is a highly respected expert on the Middle East and Africa, and his insights are regularly sought by policymakers, academics, and business leaders. He is a passionate advocate for independent journalism and a strong believer in the power of storytelling to inform and inspire. Twitter: https://twitter.com/Moh_S_Khedr LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mohamed-samir-khedr/
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