Israelis and Palestinians are hopeful but cautious over the latest cease-fire proposal (2024)

TEL AVIV, Israel — A proposed cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas is raising hopes that eight months of fighting could soon come to an end. Displaced Palestinians are desperate to return home and rebuild, while Israelis yearn for dozens of captives taken by Hamas to be freed.

The U.S.-backed proposal is the latest serious attempt to wind down the war in Gaza, and while it still faces significant hurdles, negotiations meant to bring it to fruition are ongoing.

But hopes for a cease-fire have been dashed before, and both Palestinians and Israelis are braced for disappointment. Hamas is determined to end the war still standing, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to destroy the group before ceasing the fighting.

Here is a look at the hopes, fears and expectations of some in the region as the sides weigh a deal:

‘We want a solution’

With the war displacing 80% of Gaza’s population, making much of the urban landscape uninhabitable, and sparking widespread hunger, Palestinians are aching for an end to the hostilities.

“We want a solution. We want to return to our homes. We are tired of this life,” said Salama Abu al-Qumbuz, a displaced person sheltering in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah.

The fighting, sparked by Hamas’ cross-border attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people in Israel, has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians. Most Palestinians in Gaza have lost at least one relative. Some have lost dozens.

The war, and the multiple failed attempts to secure a cease-fire deal, have deepened despair in the territory, which is compounded by the constant insecurity, the unnerving uncertainty about the future and, for some, the boredom of a life put on hold by the fighting.

Some have lost hope in the negotiations.

“They negotiated a lot, to no avail,” said Etaf Abdel Bari, who was also sheltering in Deir al-Balah. “We are not a toy in their hands.”

Hostage families want a deal, but some don’t

In Israel, those most desperate for a deal are the families of the hostages held by Hamas and other groups.

The Hamas-led fighters took some 250 people hostage in their attack, according to Israeli authorities, and after a cease-fire deal in November freed about 100. Around 80 people are still captive, along with the remains of about 40 others. The families have agonized over the fates of their loves ones, many without receiving a sign of life for eight months.

The families and thousands of their supporters gather weekly to demonstrate in support of a deal, arguing that negotiations are the only way to free significant numbers of hostages. And polls show the Israeli public views freeing them through a deal as a priority.

Shahar Mor Zahiro, whose uncle, Abraham Munder, 79, is being held hostage, said he fears this deal may fall through like previous ones.

“We already have like six or seven cycles of hope and despair, hope and despair, but what can we do? We are clinging on to any hope there is,” he said.

There is widespread support for a hostage deal, with tens of thousands of people joining street protests each week.

But among the families of hostages, some oppose a deal that would leave Hamas intact.

Eitan Zeliger is the director of the Tikva Forum, which he says represents about 30 hostage families who oppose freeing their loved ones through a deal that ends the war. Instead, they insist that Israel ramp up military pressure on Hamas to weaken its negotiating position.

“It is long and hard and hell for many hostage families,” he said. “But the families we are in touch with understand that there is no way to return the hostages without war.”

The mothers of soldiers speak out

In the aftermath of Hamas’ attack, Jewish Israelis rallied around the military as it called up hundreds of thousands of reservists to help fight against Hamas. But some voices are emerging, including of the mothers of soldiers, who accuse Netanyahu of dragging out the war to appease his far-right coalition members and keep himself in power.

“I don’t believe the decision-makers,” Noorit Felsenthal Berger, whose 21-year-old son has spent the better part of eight months in Gaza, told Israeli Army Radio Thursday. “I think we need to stop and we have a historic opportunity here,” she said about the proposed deal.

The postwar period is expected to include investigations into the government’s failures before the Oct. 7 attack and could likely lead to new elections at a time when Netanyahu’s popularity has dropped. The army says over 600 soldiers have been killed.

Protests by the mothers of soldiers have in previous wars helped pressure leaders to end the fighting, a movement that has yet to materialize in any significant numbers surrounding the war in Gaza.

That’s in part because there are other relatives of fighters who support continuing the war and balk at a deal that would leave Hamas in place.

The Gvura Forum, which represents some of the families of soldiers killed during the war, said in a letter to Netanyahu earlier this month that if Israel agreed to the proposed deal, it would be surrendering to Hamas without reaching the goals of the war.

“We will not agree that our loved ones serve as a silver platter on which the rule of terror returns to Gaza,” the group wrote.

Associated Press writer Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.

Israelis and Palestinians are hopeful but cautious over the latest cease-fire proposal (2024)


Why are Palestine and Israel fighting right now? ›

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is an ongoing military and political conflict about land and self-determination within the territory of the former Mandatory Palestine.

Who started the war between Israel and Palestine? ›

The Arab-Israeli War of 1948 broke out when five Arab nations invaded territory in the former Palestinian mandate immediately following the announcement of the independence of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948.

Does Hamas regret attacking Israel? ›

Al-Hayya said Hamas does not regret the Oct. 7 attacks, despite the destruction it has brought down on Gaza and its people.

Is Israel a country or a nation? ›

Israel, the only Jewish nation in the world, is a small country on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. For its relatively small size, the country has played a large role in global affairs.

What is the real reason for Israel and Palestine conflict? ›

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict dates back to the end of the nineteenth century. In 1947, the United Nations adopted Resolution 181, known as the Partition Plan, which sought to divide the British Mandate of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states.

What is the basic conflict between Israel and Palestine? ›

The dispute is over a specific area of land (what used to be the Mandatory Palestine area) that Palestinians and Israelis both claim. Many attempts have been made to make a two-state solution, which would mean an independent Palestinian state and an Israeli state, dividing the land between the two groups.

Is Jerusalem in Palestine or Israel? ›

Very soon after its conquest of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel merged East Jerusalem with West Jerusalem by administratively extending the municipal boundary of the city. In July 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law as part of the country's Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem the unified capital of Israel.

Was Palestine a country before Israel? ›

While the State of Israel was established on 15 May 1948 and admitted to the United Nations, a Palestinian State was not established. The remaining territories of pre-1948 Palestine, the West Bank - including East Jerusalem- and Gaza Strip, were administered from 1948 till 1967 by Jordan and Egypt, respectively.

Why was Israel created in Palestine? ›

Following World War II and the Holocaust, international pressure mounted for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, leading to the creation of Israel in 1948.

What religion is Israel? ›

According to the country's Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) classification system (2021 data), approximately 73.8 percent of the population is Jewish, 18 percent Muslim, 1.9 percent Christian, and 1.6 percent Druze.

Does Hamas want a ceasefire? ›

“Both sides only want a ceasefire deal that ensures their political survival,” Lowenstein said. “For Hamas, that's a permanent ceasefire that allows them to retain some military capabilities. For Bibi, it's only a temporary pause on the path to 'total victory'.”

What has Israel done to Palestine so far? ›

Since then, more than 37,396 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, 70% of them women and children. Israel also placed Gaza under hermetic closure—blocking access to food, water, fuel, electricity, medical supplies, and other goods. As a result, people are dying of starvation and disease.

Why does the US support Israel? ›

Bilateral relations have evolved from an initial American policy of sympathy and support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in 1948, to a partnership that links a small but powerful state with a superpower attempting to balance influence against competing interests in the region, namely Russia and its allies.

Is Israel rich or poor? ›

Israel was ranked 19th out of 189 countries on the 2019 UN Human Development Index, indicating "very high" development. It is considered a high-income country by the World Bank. Israel also has a very high life expectancy at birth. It is ranked 4th in UN's Global happiness index and second in index of young people.

How many US citizens live in Israel? ›

The State Department estimates that roughly 500,000 American citizens live in Israel. The U.S. State Department will be arranging chartered flights for American citizens who are currently in Israel, the White House announced Thursday.

What is the current status of Palestine? ›

Palestine's current status

These rights temporarily accorded to Palestine then expired as of 2020. On 2 April 2024, Palestine sent the UN Secretary-General a letter requesting renewed consideration be given to the application of Palestine for admission to membership in the UN, a request originally submitted in 2011.

Which countries support Palestine? ›

Among the G20, nine countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey, as well as permanent invitee Spain) have recognized Palestine as a state, while ten countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the ...

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