Tel Aviv is ready: Israel's president Herzog on Gaza truce but Hamas says…

11:47AM Wed 20 Dec, 2023

Israeli president Isaac Herzog indicated readiness on the part of the country to enter another foreign-mediated Gaza truce in order to recover hostages held by Hamas. This will also enable more aid to reach the Palestinian enclave, he said.

"Israel is ready for another humanitarian pause and additional humanitarian aid in order to enable the release of hostages," Isaac Herzog told a gathering of ambassadors, as per news agency Reuters.

"And the responsibility lies fully with (Hamas leader Yahya) Sinwar and (other) Hamas leadership," he said.

However, Hamas rejected holding negotiations over exchanging prisoners during the Israeli war. A senior official said that it is open to any initiative to end it, as per news agency Reuters.

"We affirm our position of categorically rejecting to hold any form of negotiations over prisoners exchange under the continuing Israeli genocidal war", Basem Naem said, adding, “We are, however, open to any initiative that contributes to ending the aggression on our people and opening the crossings to bring in aid and provide relief to the Palestinian people.”

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin pledged "ironclad" US support for Israel saying, “We'll continue to provide Israel with the equipment that you need to defend your country... including critical munitions, tactical vehicles and air defence systems.”

This comes as Israel launched more deadly strikes on Gaza ahead of an expected UN Security Council vote on another ceasefire demand. Israel maintained its bombardment and ground combat in the third month of the bloodiest ever Gaza war that started when Hamas launched their attack on October 7, killing around 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, and abducted about 250.

Israel's retaliation has killed more than 19,667 people in Gaza, mostly women and children.