Calls for ceasefire go unheeded two weeks into Israel-Hamas crisis

As 20 aid trucks arrived at a UN storage facility in central Gaza on Saturday, October 21, uncertainty loomed for the 2.3 million people still blockaded there.

It’s been two weeks since Hamas attacked Israel, killing close to 1,400 people in coordinated attacks that prompted devastating Israeli retaliation and increased tensions around the world.   Israel said it would increase strikes on Gaza starting Saturday. Hamas is holding as many as 200 hostages it kidnapped during the attacks, and says 50 more captives are being held by other armed groups inside Gaza.

Hamas previously said 20 hostages were killed by Israeli air strikes, without providing details.

Two American hostages were released by Hamas Friday and handed over to Israeli authorities after Qatar helped mediate their release.  

In addition to Israeli hostages, Hamas is also holding citizens of Thailand, Argentina, Britain, Germany, France and Portugal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed “mighty vengeance” for the Oct. 7 massacre. 

A ground invasion of Gaza by Israeli forces could come at any time.  More than 4,300 Palestinian people, including women and children, have been killed in the retaliatory attacks.

Demonstrations around the world show deep divisions in communities supporting Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

The U.S. has affirmed support for Israel’s right to defend itself, but officials have expressed doubt that Israel has crafted an endgame to the conflict that threatens to draw in other countries and divide the world. Arab leaders at a Cairo summit on Saturday condemned the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. 

With Israel and the U.S. absent from the summit, no agreement was made toward how to contain the violence. “The message the Arab world is hearing is that Palestinian lives matter less than Israeli ones,” Jordan’s King Abdullah said, adding he was outraged and grieved by acts of violence waged against innocent civilians.

Gulf Cooperation Council and ASEAN countries called for a durable ceasefire, the immediate release of civilian hostages and detainees, and a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

China’s special envoy for Middle East affairs, Zhai Jun, has also called for efforts to implement a two-state solution and promote an early, comprehensive, just, and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question. France called for a humanitarian corridor into Gaza that it said could lead to a ceasefire. 

Britain and Germany both urged Israel’s military to show restraint. Israel has vowed to wipe the Iranian-backed Hamas militant group “off the face of the earth.”

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Calls for ceasefire go unheeded two weeks into Israel-Hamas crisis

Calls for ceasefire go unheeded two weeks into Israel-Hamas crisis

World leaders gathered in Cairo on Saturday and called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and a massive increase in aid to Gaza.

They also called for a definitive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That echoed a proposal for renewed talks on a two-state solution, put forward by the summit’s host, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

With Israel preparing for a ground invasion, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the summit, “We must act now to end the nightmare.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said humanitarian corridors need to be opened to get aid to Gazans.

More than a dozen countries sent top-level representatives. Israel did not attend. The United States did not send any senior officials.

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