Calls For Ceasefire During Ramadan Rise

Calls for a ceasefire in the Middle East conflict have increased as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan approaches on March 10. Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg added his voice in late February and specifically urged the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah not to cause an escalation. Schellenberg met with his counterpart in Beirut during a tour of the region, where he also visited Israel, Jordan, and Ramallah in the West Bank.

Conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is long-running and accelerated following the Hamas terror attack on October 7. On February 4, Israeli officials said the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) had struck more than 50 Hezbelloh sites in Syria since October while the Iran-backed group continued to fire missiles into Israeli territory. It had furthermore targeted and struck 3,400 sites inside Lebanon, including 40 command centers, 120 surveillance outposts, and 40 missile caches.

Chief IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said, “Everywhere Hezbollah is, we shall be.”

Exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah continued as Schellenberg called for restraint, with Israel hitting the northeastern city of Baalbek in response to the shooting down of an Israeli drone on February 26.

In Washington, DC, President Joe Biden echoed Mr. Shellenberg’s remarks and said he hoped a ceasefire was possible before Ramadan. Following peace talks in Paris, a 40-day cessation of military activity was proposed, covering Ramadan and providing time for aid to reach Gaza and for the release of Israeli hostages.

Details of the proposal include the release of all Israeli women, children, and people aged over 50, an exchange release of 400 Palestinian prisoners, an end to the military campaign from both parties for 40 days, a temporary end to aerial reconnaissance missions over Gaza, the return of displaced civilians (except fighting age men) to the northern Gaza Strip, and the eventual repositioning of Israeli troops away from civilian areas.

Biden said he hopes the deal is completed in time for the month when observant Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.