LONDON - UK-based charity organisation Oxfam has doubted Israel will abide by any ceasefire in the Gaza Strip as it continues to bombard the enclave.
Oxfam on Wednesday cast doubt on a humanitarian pause to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, as some countries look to reach a deal on a temporary ceasefire to release hostages and allow more aid into the besieged Palestinian territory.
"Talk of humanitarian access is a false promise, when Israeli bombs continue to relentlessly hit civilians and children and when a full siege remains in place," Oxfam Head of Advocacy Katy Chakrabortty said in a statement.
"Israel’s right to self-defence does not justify this appalling suffering and humanitarian crisis. It is evidently clear that Israel is violating International Humanitarian Law."
The confederation of charity groups was responding to a statement made by the UK’s Minister of State for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell earlier on Wednesday in the British Parliament, where he stressed the need for "effective humanitarian pauses" in the Gaza war to increase the flow of humanitarian support.
But he blamed Hamas for not wanting to engage in a ceasefire agreement.
"As the UK government is aware, it is illegal to target civilians or deny food, medicine, and water. Yet this is exactly what has been happening for over a month now. The UK government has a moral and diplomatic responsibility to help bring about a permanent ceasefire and start the hard-nosed work towards peace," the statement said.
Negotiations mediated by Qatar are ongoing to secure the release of 10 to 15 hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a 1-2 day humanitarian pause in Gaza, a source briefed on the negotiations told Reuters on Wednesday.
The negotiations are coordinated with the United States, the source told Reuters, adding that the pause should allow Hamas to gather details of all civilian hostages and secure the release of dozens more.
A separate Egyptian security source also said a 24-48-hour ceasefire or limitation of the main zone of operations was expected within the next week in return for a release of hostages.
The US and other countries have stepped up pressure on Israel to get this done, the source said.
During its surprise attack on 7 October, Hamas captured more than 200 people it hopes to swap with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention. Some of these hostages have been released, and others, the group says, have died in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.
Aid has trickled into the enclave, but far less than what it is needed.
Dozens of hospitals and medical centres have shut down over fuel shortages, and Gaza’s 2.3 million population is in desperate need of food, water, and medicine.
The United Nations has warned that Gaza's health system is close to collapse.
Israel’s unprecedented bombardment of Gaza has killed over 10,500 people since 7 October, most of them women and children. More than half of the population has been displaced.
Israeli forces are currently battling Hamas inside Gaza.