Latest round of Gaza truce talks expected in Egypt

Latest round of Gaza truce talks expected in Egypt

/ 05:03 PM May 05, 2024

Latest round of Gaza truce talks expected in Egypt

Palestinians walk in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on May 4, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant Hamas group. Agence France-Presse

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES — Talks to strike a Gaza truce were expected to resume Sunday after Hamas rejected any deal that failed to end the war in the Palestinian territory and accused Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu of “personally hindering” an agreement.

Negotiators seeking to halt the devastating seven-month war have proposed a 40-day pause in the fighting and an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners, according to details released by Britain.


Qatari, Egyptian and US mediators met a Hamas delegation in Cairo on Saturday and a senior Hamas source close to the negotiations told AFP there would be “a new round” of talks on Sunday.


READ: Hamas official: We will not accept truce that does not end Gaza war

Each side blamed the other for stalled negotiations, with a senior Hamas official insisting late Saturday that the group would “not agree under any circumstances” to a truce that did not explicitly include a complete end to the war, including Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.

The official, who asked not to be named, condemned Israeli efforts to secure a hostage-release deal “without linking it to ending the aggression on Gaza”. He accused Netanyahu of “personally hindering” efforts to reach a truce due to “personal interests”.

A top Israeli official said earlier that Hamas was “thwarting the possibility of reaching an agreement” by refusing to give up its demand for an end to the war.

Israel has not agreed to any guarantees that the war will end, the official told AFP in Jerusalem.

Despite months of shuttle diplomacy, mediators have failed to broker a new truce like the week-long ceasefire that saw 105 hostages released last November in exchange for Palestinians held by Israel.


Previous negotiations stalled in part due to Hamas’s demand for a lasting ceasefire and Netanyahu’s repeated vows to crush the group’s remaining fighters in the southern city of Rafah, which is flooded with displaced civilians.

Israel has yet to send a delegation to Cairo. The Israeli official said it would do so only if there was “positive movement” on the proposed framework.

“Tough and long negotiations are expected for an actual deal,” the official added.

‘Full-blown famine’

The war broke out following Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 34,654 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

The United Nations has warned of a “full-blown famine” in northern Gaza.

READ: UN food chief warns of ‘full-blown famine’ in northern Gaza

“There is famine, full-blown famine in the north and it’s moving its way south,” Cindy McCain, executive director of the World Food Programme, said in an interview excerpt published Friday.

The World Health Organization said Friday that the availability of food in the Gaza Strip had very slightly improved in the besieged Palestinian territory, which is home to 2.4 million people.

The United Nations says more than 70 percent of Gaza’s residential buildings have been completely or partly destroyed, and rebuilding will require an effort unseen since the aftermath of World War II.

Accepting a truce deal with Israel should be a “no-brainer” for Hamas, who are “the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire”, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said late Friday.

US President Joe Biden has come under mounting domestic pressure to leverage more concessions from Netanyahu’s government over its conduct of the war.

A letter signed by 88 members of Congress from Biden’s Democratic Party expressed serious concern over Israel’s “deliberate withholding” of aid for Palestinian civilians and urged Biden to consider halting arms sales unless Israel’s conduct changes.

At US urging, Israel has facilitated more aid deliveries into Gaza in recent days but UN agencies say that has not averted the advancing famine.

Rafah ‘bloodbath’

The prospect of an assault on Rafah has sparked deepening international concern.

The senior Hamas official on Saturday said Israel would bear “full responsibility for insisting on entering Rafah instead of ceasing the aggression”.

The WHO says 1.2 million people, half of the Gaza Strip’s population, are sheltering in Rafah.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday warned that “a full-scale military operation in Rafah… could lead to a bloodbath”.

The war in Gaza has also triggered a surge in violence in the already restive occupied West Bank, where Israel said on Saturday its troops killed five Palestinian “terrorists” during a 12-hour siege near Tulkarem.

Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, reported the death of three fighters, including its Tulkarem chief Alaa Adib.

At least 496 Palestinians have been killed in the territory by Israeli troops or settlers since October 7, according to an AFP tally.

Student protests against the war have erupted in Europe and North America, with demonstrators gathering on at least 40 US university campuses since mid-April.

In recent days, police have forcibly dismantled several student sit-ins, including one at New York University at the request of its administrators.

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At the University of California, Los Angeles, hundreds of police emptied a camp, tearing down barriers and detaining more than 200 protesters.

TAGS: Ceasefire, Egypt, Gaza, Israel-Hamas war

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