08/17/2018, 18.16
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Uncertainty surrounds Gaza ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas

Israeli sources mention a six-phase agreement, which Hamas denies. The Kerem Shalom crossing has reopened and Gaza’s fishing area has been extended. Still, life in the Strip remains appalling. People in need of medical have a hard time leaving, including children like Louay, a three-year-old cancer patient.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – In Gaza, news about a new ceasefire between Hamas and Israel has been met with uncertainty and “doubtful optimism” after weeks of tensions, said Dr Jamal Dakdouki, who spoke to AsiaNews. Dr Dakdouki is the director of The Galilee Society and member of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which provides psychological assistance to Gazans.

The apparent six-point agreement, said to have been reached in Cairo, Egypt, with the mediation of the United Nations, calls for gradual implementation, Israeli media report, provided peace is fully maintained.

It includes: a comprehensive ceasefire; the reopening of Gaza's border crossings and expansion of the permitted fishing zone; medical and humanitarian assistance; a resolution to the issue of captive soldiers, missing civilians and prisoners; a broad reconstruction of Gaza's infrastructure, with foreign funding; and discussions about sea and air ports in Gaza.

A senior Hamas official denied the reports about the emerging Israel-Hamas deal, noting talks in Cairo are only an internal Palestinian matter.

For now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau has not released a statement on the issue, whilst Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has denied any agreement. Last week, the cabinet had approved the talks.

In the Strip itself, the ceasefire has held for the past two days, the Kerem Shalom crossing has been reopened, and the fishing area expanded.

"There is still a lot of uncertainty,” Dakdouki said, “and little trust, given the long history of the conflict. For now, we do not know the details of this agreement, so there is doubtful optimism. The truce could end at any moment, we must wait ..."

For Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, life remains appalling, especially for people who suffer from illnesses that cannot be treated locally. For months, the Strip's health system has been in serious crisis.

One of the patients is Louay Al Khoudari, a three-year-old boy diagnosed with an aggressive soft tissue sarcoma in January.

The child has been treated at An-Najah hospital in Nablus, but he had to be accompanied by a stranger because his mother could not go with him since she is a first-degree relative of a Hamas member.

After the case was reported by Israeli daily Haaretz, Israeli authorities relented and allowed his mother to leave Gaza and join him.

But Louay and his mother are not the only Gazans who need to travel outside the Strip. Last month, seven seriously ill women needing life-saving treatment were denied permission to leave because they are related to Hamas members.

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