After the ceasefire in Gaza the ball is in Hamass

After the ceasefire in Gaza, the ball is “in Hamas’s court” for Washington.

Israel has “more or less” agreed to a ceasefire deal in Gaza and is now putting the ball “in the hands of Hamas,” a U.S. official said Saturday, as the United States began airdrops of humanitarian aid into Palestinian territory.

“There is a deal on the table. The Israelis more or less accepted it. And a six-week ceasefire could begin in Gaza today if Hamas agrees to release a clearly defined category of vulnerable hostages,” the U.S. official said.

Progress due to lack of agreement

He said talks were continuing for now to seal a deal before the start of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, in a week.

“There has been significant progress in recent weeks, but as always there is no agreement until everything is decided,” added this senior official, who requested anonymity.

He made it clear that the six-week ceasefire was designed as a “first phase” with the aim of achieving “something more permanent”, in particular to be able to massively increase humanitarian aid.

Humanitarian aid and pressure on Hamas

The United States airdropped aid into Gaza for the first time on Saturday, delivering more than 38,000 meals, the U.S. military said.

The American airdrops come two days after an aid distribution operation turned tragic. The health ministry of Gaza's ruling Hamas accuses the Israeli army of killing 115 people by firing on a hungry crowd running towards aid trucks. The Israeli army acknowledged “limited shooting” and claimed that most of the victims died in a “rush.”

Three US military aircraft dropped packages containing more than 38,000 meals into Gaza on Saturday afternoon local time in cooperation with Jordan, the US Middle East Command (Centcom) said.

US President Joe Biden said on Friday that Washington would join “Jordan and other countries in airdropping food and other goods” into Gaza.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby then clarified that this was not a one-off operation.

“Further airdrops are being planned and carried out by the Pentagon,” he said, emphasizing their “extremely difficult” nature due to Gaza’s population density.

Joe Biden also mentioned on Friday “the possibility of a maritime corridor to transport large amounts of aid.”

The presidential election in sight

Until now, the United States, Israel's main backer, had not carried out such airdrops because it considered their effectiveness to be limited.

But for weeks Washington has been complaining to Israel about the inadequate humanitarian aid to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.

In the midst of the election campaign in the United States, President Joe Biden, a candidate for a second term, is also coming under pressure from the left wing of his party and the Muslim community over his support for Israel.