The staggering death toll in the Gaza Strip – around 13,000 people, according to officials in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory – and the growing number of casualtiesin the enclave fueled growing calls for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas, and representatives worked around the clock for weeks to reach an agreement in complex negotiations in Qatar.
Israel launched its massive offensive against Hamas in Gaza in response to the group’s bloody October 7 terrorist attack, which killed some 1,200 people and saw the militants capture around 240 hostages.
Senior Hamas representatives and Western officials, including President Biden,probably for a temporary ceasefire of about five days in exchange for Hamas releasing some of the hostages and Israel releasing some of the hundreds of Palestinians in its prisons.
However, several proposed agreements aimed at ending the fighting collapsed at the last minute, so there was no guarantee Tuesday of any imminent respite for thousands of families who have been displaced from their homes. in Gaza, now living in squalid conditions in a war zone, nor for the dozens of Israeli families who are desperate to recover their kidnapped loved ones.
CBS News producer Marwan al-Ghoul met with displaced Palestinian families as they huddled in what little shelter they could find in southern Gaza, their children wet and shivering from the cold, protected only by tents.
“If they wanted to drive us from our homes and land, why didn’t they build camps for us? one mother asked about the military operation that Israel says only targets Hamas and other extremists.
“We haven’t had food for three days, not a piece of bread. We don’t even have water,” the woman told Al-Ghoul as rain pounded the tent, filling it and the ground all around with muddy water. The rain has been falling for days and it is getting colder, leaving countless families unhappy and vulnerable awaiting news of a ceasefire that could, at least, allow an influx of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Across the Israeli border, the families of around 240 hostages taken by Hamas were also holding their breath Tuesday awaiting an agreement.
There are children, even toddlers and babies, among those believed to be detained in Gaza by Hamas and possibly other groups, and some of their families gathered Monday outside a United Nations office in Israel to demand that someone do something to save their children. . With no certainty about the eventual release of hostages, they called on the Israeli government, the United States and even the UN – anyone willing to listen – to bring their children home.
Hadas Kalderon, whose mother was killed on October 7 and whose son Erez, 12, and daughter Sahar, 16, were captured, was at the protest knowing that every second without a deal could prove deadly .
She told CBS News that she had not received any news of the fate of her children since they were kidnapped by Hamas, which has long been designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and many others. country.
“I don’t have any information,” Kalderon said, adding that any information she and the other families received seemed “irrelevant, because at any moment it can be changed. One moment, you’re alive. One moment, you “I’m not here. It does not matter.”
As Israeli airstrikes continue across Gaza and it is unclear where the hostages are in the densely populated enclave, the mother said she is ‘worried about everything’, the spread of diseases in a disastrous humanitarian context on the ground, with bombs falling from the air.
“They’re in the middle of a war. How come?” she asked. “Of course, I don’t sleep. I don’t eat.”
She said politicians involved in the ceasefire and hostage negotiations were “morally and politically obliged to bring them home as soon as possible…The government, the leaders, must sign – to conclude the ‘agreement. Come on, seal the deal!
While senior Hamas officials said the terms of a ceasefire deal had been agreed upon, Israeli officials did not specify whether a final deal had been signed by the government, and any potential deal between the warring parties could potentially derail it. by events on the ground in the powder magazine region.
Iranian-backed groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, just across Israel’s northern border, and the Houthi movement in Yemen, have been threatening to join the war for weeks. On Tuesday, the Hezbollah-linked Al-Mayadeen television channel said two of its journalists and a third civilian had been killed in “a cowardly Israeli attack in southern Lebanon.”
Israel reportedly hit a civilian car in southern Lebanon, killing at least one other person.
In a statement, the Israeli military said its planes “identified and struck three armed terrorist cells in the border area with Lebanon” on Tuesday after “terrorists fired mortar shells at an IDF post in northern Israel.
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