Despite expressions of hope from US President Joe Biden, both Israeli and Hamas officials have downplayed the likelihood of an imminent ceasefire in Gaza. President Biden referred to the ongoing negotiations and mentioned the possibility of a ceasefire by 4 March suggesting Israel’s willingness to temporarily halt hostilities during Ramadan.

Basem Naim, head of Hamas’s political division in Gaza, stated that the group has yet to formally receive a new ceasefire proposal since last week’s talks in Paris. Naim described President Biden’s statement on a potential truce by 4 March as premature and not reflective of the current reality on the ground. Ahmad Abdel-Hadi, a Hamas representative in Beirut, suggested that significant progress on a deal has not been made.

On the Israeli side, officials expressed surprise at Biden’s comments on a potential ceasefire, stating they were not coordinated with Israel’s leadership. Israeli officials claim that Hamas continues to make “excessive demands,” indicating ongoing challenges in reaching an agreement. Biden’s previous optimism about nearing a ceasefire is met with scepticism from Israeli officials who suggest persistent difficulties in the negotiation process.

As the conflict in Gaza continues, the Biden administration finds itself increasingly frustrated with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to insights provided by Dov Waxman, a professor of Israel studies at UCLA. Netanyahu appears unlikely to alter course, motivated by the strong support Israel receives from the American public for its actions in the conflict. This dynamic created a challenging situation for Biden.

Despite the differences between the governments and mounting civilian death toll in Gaza, President Biden has called on Congress to pass a funding bill aimed at helping Israel “defend itself.” He also advocates for a permanent cut in US funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), which analysts say the only remaining lifeline for the people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory who are on the brink of famine.

The approaching presidential election and criticism from the left wing of the Democratic Party worsens the frustration within the Biden administration. Biden has faced scrutiny for his perceived support of Netanyahu, leading to concerns about his standing within certain factions of his party, with some viewing him as appearing weak in the face of the ongoing conflict. Recent opinion polls reflect support among the US voters for Israel’s continuing ground offensive in Gaza.

Israel, backed and armed by the US, the UK, and other western governments, has killed 29,878 Palestinians, displaced over 85% of the 2.3 million population, and left more than half of the strip’s infrastructure in ruins.

A November truce, exchanging about 100 hostages for 240 Palestinians in Israeli jails, collapsed after a week, and progress on a second deal has been challenging.

Regarding the ongoing negotiations for a ceasefire, the latest proposal suggests a 40-day pause in all military operations with conditions such as the exchange of Palestinian hostages for Israeli hostages at a ratio of 10 to one. Proposed terms also include repairing infrastructure in Gaza, allowing daily aid truck deliveries, and facilitating the return of civilians (excluding men of military age) to northern Gaza.

However, the talks face challenges, particularly in determining the number and identities of detainees and hostages to be released. The inclusion of female soldiers in the first group of hostages to be released is also under discussion. Hamas’s exiled leadership insists on a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza before releasing hostages, a demand Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who plans to occupy Gaza indefinitely, considers “delusional.”

Palestinians in Gaza express dismay as talks continue, facing extreme hunger due to a lack of aid, food, and water. Netanyahu maintains that a temporary ceasefire won’t prevent a threatened Israeli ground offensive on Rafah, the southernmost town in Gaza, which is currently the last refuge for over half of Gaza’s population, who have been forced out of other areas of the enclave due to Israel’s intense bombardment and destruction.

The Israeli army reports the destruction of a tunnel, which it claims was used by Palestinian fighters, during a raid on the Zeitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City, an area under Israeli control since November.

In northern Gaza, severe food shortages push people to the brink of famine, with reports emerging of residents resorting to eating animal feed and leaves. Israel continues to block entry of food into Gaza. Accordig to the UN’s leading expert on the right to food, Israel is intentionally starving Palestinians and should be held accountable for war crimes – and genocide.

The Israeli military has also conducted additional airstrikes in southern Lebanon, targeting what it describes as military buildings and infrastructures of Hezbollah. The communities of A-Taiba, Beit Leaf, Tzadikin, and Khirbat Selem are mentioned as locations of the airstrikes. A previous report indicated an Israeli airstrike against a Hezbollah cell in Aita al-Shaab, a Lebanese town near the Israeli border.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah has announced its willingness to halt fire in Israel if a truce in Gaza is achieved. Qatari mediators express optimism about brokering a deal for Gaza, with ongoing efforts and regular meetings but no confirmed details or deadline.

The Israeli military’s presence is not limited to Jenin and East Jerusalem, as reports indicate raids in various locations across the occupied West Bank. Al-Mazraa, Al-Gharbiyya, Birzeit, and areas north of Ramallah have all come under Israeli military strikes.

The UN humanitarian agency, OCHA, has reported significant challenges in safely reaching northern and parts of southern Gaza. Humanitarian aid convoys are coming under fire, and access to those in need is systematically denied, blocking the delivery of vital assistance. OCHA expresses deep concerns about the protection of civilians, highlighting allegations of Israeli forces shooting at Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid in Gaza City.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says that children are already succumbing to dehydration, which can claim thousands of lives within days if immediate intervention does not occur.