© Reuters. Displaced Palestinians react close to their tents following an Israeli strike on a automobile, amid the continuing battle between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, within the southern Gaza Strip, February 7, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Humeyra Pamuk
DOHA/TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Mediators from the U.S., Qatar and Egypt scrambled to forge a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas of their four-month-old battle within the Gaza Strip after America’s prime diplomat on a Middle East mission stated there was nonetheless hope for a deal.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated he noticed room for negotiation, and a Palestinian Hamas delegation led by senior official Khalil Al-Hayya was attributable to journey on Thursday to Cairo for ceasefire talks with Egypt and Qatar.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected Hamas’ newest provide, calling it “delusional,” and Hamas urged Palestinian armed factions to go on combating.
“There are clearly nonstarters in what (Hamas has) put forward,” Blinken stated on Wednesday at a late-night press convention in a Tel Aviv lodge, with out specifying what the nonstarters had been.
“But we also see space in what came back to pursue negotiations, to see if we can get to an agreement. That’s what we intend to do.”
Before heading again to the U.S., Blinken was attributable to maintain conferences in Israel on Thursday, together with with relations of hostages nonetheless held in Gaza who’ve clamoured for Netanyahu to make profitable their freedom his prime precedence.
Hamas, the militant group that guidelines Gaza, proposed a ceasefire of 4-1/2 months, throughout which all hostages held in Gaza would go free, Israel would withdraw its troops from Gaza and an settlement could be reached on an finish to the battle.
The Hamas provide was a response to a proposal drawn up by U.S. and Israeli spy chiefs and delivered to Hamas final week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators.
Israel could be prepared to let Hamas navy chief Yahya Sinwar go into exile in alternate for the discharge of all hostages and an finish to the Hamas authorities in Gaza, a half-dozen Israeli officers and senior advisers have instructed NBC News.
In response to the Hamas plan, Netanyahu renewed a pledge to destroy the Islamist motion, saying there was no different for Israel however to result in its collapse.
“Surrendering to the delusional demands of Hamas … will not only not bring the release of the hostages, it will invite another massacre. It will invite a grave disaster for the state of Israel that none of our citizens is willing to accept,” the Israeli chief instructed reporters on Wednesday.
“Continued military pressure is a necessary condition for the release of the hostages,” Netanyahu stated.
Israel started its navy offensive after Hamas militants from Gaza killed 1,200 individuals and took 253 hostages in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
Gaza’s well being ministry says no less than 27,585 Palestinians have been confirmed killed, with hundreds more feared buried beneath rubble in Israel’s offensive since then.
In the one truce to this point, lasting per week on the finish of November, 110 hostages had been launched and Israel freed 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Netanyahu, whose home reputation is at all-time low, faces public strain to proceed working with worldwide mediators towards an settlement in Gaza.
A ballot of Israelis launched by a nonpartisan think-tank, the Israel Democracy Institute, this week discovered 51% of respondents consider recovering the hostages must be the primary aim of the battle, whereas 36% stated it must be toppling Hamas.
Washington has forged the hostage and truce deal as a part of plans for a wider decision of the Middle East battle, finally resulting in reconciliation between Israel and Arab neighbours and creation of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu rejects a Palestinian state, which Saudi Arabia says is a requirement for the dominion to normalise relations with Israel.
ISRAEL EXPANDS ASSAULT ON RAFAH
Israel has not too long ago targeted on capturing Khan Younis, the primary metropolis in Gaza’s south. But final week Israel stated it will develop its marketing campaign into Rafah, the place about half the enclave’s 2.3 million persons are penned towards the border with Egypt.
Many have relocated a number of instances to flee Israeli assaults, and so they face dire shortages of meals and danger of illness.
On the bottom in southern Gaza, residents stated Israel stepped up its assault on Rafah within the early hours of Thursday. Israel claims Rafah is now a bastion of Hamas fight models.
Two Israeli strikes hit two homes within the space of Tel Al-Sultan within the metropolis, residents stated. Hamas media stated seven individuals had been killed and 11 injured.
Footage on Palestinian media confirmed frantic efforts to hurry the injured to hospital. Reuters couldn’t independently confirm the small print.