Progress in Gaza ceasefire talks amid ongoing conflict

Israel and Hamas are inching towards a 30-day ceasefire agreement in Gaza, which would involve the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, sources informed Reuters. This development comes as Israel continues its offensive in Khan Younis, southern Gaza's main city.

Publication: 24.01.2024 - 14:28
Progress in Gaza ceasefire talks amid ongoing conflict
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Qatar, the U.S., and Egypt have been mediating between Israel and Hamas, the militant group governing Gaza, to negotiate a break in fighting. The ceasefire would facilitate the entry of additional food and medical supplies into Gaza.

Despite these efforts, a permanent resolution to end the Gaza war remains elusive, with Hamas demanding a clear resolution before proceeding, according to the sources.

Israeli spokesperson Eylon Levy stated on Tuesday that any ceasefire leaving Hamas in power and hostages in Gaza is unacceptable. This statement followed Hamas's cross-border attack on Oct. 7, which resulted in approximately 1,200 Israeli casualties. Palestinian health officials report over 25,490 Gazan fatalities, with thousands more possibly buried under rubble.

The U.S. State Department, White House, Qatar's foreign ministry, and Egypt's State Information Service have not responded to requests for comment on the ceasefire negotiations.

Meanwhile, Israel's military operation in Khan Younis continues, displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Israeli forces have blocked escape routes towards the Mediterranean coast, confining civilians to the Rafah area on Gaza's southern border with Egypt, now overwhelmed with over half of the enclave's 2.3 million population.

The Israeli military reported on Wednesday that it had eliminated "numerous" gunmen in western Khan Younis through sniper, tank, and aerial fire. Israel claims to have killed about 9,000 militants, a figure Hamas disputes as exaggerated.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported three displaced individuals killed and two injured at its Khan Younis headquarters.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra accused Israel of targeting Nasser Hospital, the largest operational medical facility, hindering access for medical staff and patients. Israel, however, maintains that Hamas fighters are operating in and around hospitals, a claim denied by hospital staff and Hamas.

U.N. relief coordinator Martin Griffiths reported that 24 people were killed in strikes on U.N. facilities in Khan Younis, including an aid warehouse and humanitarian zone. Some residents are fleeing Khan Younis via alternative routes, heading towards Rafah or Deir Al-Balah to the north.

Footage shows Palestinians burying their dead in various locations across Gaza, including hospital grounds and Al-Aqsa University. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized the unprecedented scale of destruction in Gaza, criticizing Israel's stance against a Palestinian state.

Diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire continue, with Qatar expressing optimism based on ongoing discussions with both parties. U.S. envoy Brett McGurk is in Cairo for talks focused on hostage release and securing a humanitarian pause. Over 130 hostages remain in Gaza, as per Israeli counts.

The previous seven-day truce in November, which saw the exchange of hostages and prisoners, collapsed, with each side blaming the other for the failure.

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