Ceasefire Israel-Hamas: Humza Yousaf warns Gaza ceasefire 'must go further' as four-day pause and release of hostages agreed
The ceasefire is expected to start at 10am tomorrow morning, local time, with all drone and Israeli aircraft activity is expected to stop. In the north of Gaza, however, the ceasefire will only hold between 10am and 4pm every day.
The deal marks the biggest diplomatic breakthrough since the Hamas attacks on southern Israel ignited a war that has devastated vast swathes of Gaza and raised fears of a wider conflict across the Middle East. It is estimated more than 14,000 people have died in Gaza since the conflict began and many more forced to flee their homes.
Mr Yousaf’s comments came as Israel and Hamas reached an agreement over a four-day truce that will see 50 hostages taken by Hamas on October 7 released, as well as 150 Palestinian women and teenagers held in Israeli prisons.
The First Minister, who on Tuesday called for the UK to recognise the state of Palestine and has family in Gaza, said: “While any pause in violence will be welcome relief, it must go further. We can not see a repeat of the carnage that has killed so many innocent people resume after four days. Every ounce of diplomatic effort is needed to ensure this pause becomes a permanent end to the violence.”
Humanitarian organisations also said the pause would allow essential aid to flow into Gaza, where hospitals have been forced to shut down due to a lack of power and citizens have faced huge shortages of food and clean water. However, some warned that four days was not enough.
Under the deal, 200 lorries carrying aid, four fuel tankers and four lorries carrying gas will also be able to enter Gaza via Egypt's Rafah crossing on each of the four days.
A spokesman for ActionAid warned its partners said they would not be able to meet the “scale of demand” within a four-day timeframe.
"Although the four-day humanitarian pause declared in response is a welcome respite after such a prolonged period of violence, it is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the immense humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza right now,” the spokesman said.
"Our partners in Gaza are telling us that they are simply not able to meet the scale of demand within such a small timeframe – the situation in Gaza right now is nothing short of catastrophic. It needs sustained and unimpeded support far longer than a few days' worth of aid trucks. There is not enough fuel to transport aid around the Strip, so agencies in Gaza are simply unable to reach those in vital need of urgent support in the next four days.
Hiba Tibi, Gaza country director of humanitarian aid charity CARE, said: "The deal provides hope which, after 46 days of conflict, is so desperately needed for the over two million men, women and children of Gaza. We hope that this pause leads to a sustained ceasefire.
“I am especially hopeful about the news that hundreds of aid trucks will be allowed into Gaza. This is a critical opportunity for safe and sustained aid to reach Palestinian families, at a scale commensurate with the skyrocketing needs following the utter decimation of critical infrastructure and life support. Food, water, fuel, medical supplies, and services are needed now at scale to prevent further loss of life.”
The Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, which has played a key role in mediating with Hamas, announced the deal. Fifty hostages will be released in stages, in exchange for what Hamas said would be 150 Palestinian prisoners.
Arab leaders also gave a cautious welcome to the deal, but said a full ceasefire was needed.
“It’s good news...but only one step in the right direction,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
“We hope it can be a basis for extended pauses which lead to a ceasefire.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would resume the war after the truce and keep fighting “until we achieve all our goals”, including the defeat of Hamas.
Fighting intensified overnight on Wednesday, even after the deal was announced.
Right Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said she hoped there could be a “lasting peace” in the region.
“My heart and prayers remain deeply concerned for all those caught up in this appalling situation, for the families, friends and loved ones who have experienced such unimaginable distress,” she said.
“Building a lasting peace will not be an easy task. I pray that the leaders of the world can come together to work for an end to all violence and hatred, and to support those who suffer and grieve at the hands of war and injustice. As people of faith, we in the Church must remain hopeful for a future which can be different to the past.”
European Commission (EC) head Ursula van der Leyen said the EC would “upscale further shipments to Gaza as quickly as possible”.
She said: “Every day these mothers and children are held hostage by terrorists is one too many. I share the joy of the families who can soon embrace their loved ones again.”
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