Israel-Hamas truce talks to resume today in Cairo

 

A demonstrator sits during a protest in Tel Aviv, Israel, against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages kidnapped in Hamas' deadly October 7 attack on Israel, March 30, 2024. [Reuters]

Truce talks between Israel and Hamas will resume Sunday in Cairo, the latest attempt to bring about a pause after nearly six months of war in the Gaza Strip, Egypt's Al Qahera News TV reported Saturday, citing a security source.

An Israeli official told Reuters that Israel will send a delegation to Cairo on Sunday. However, a Hamas official told Reuters the group would wait to hear from Cairo mediators on the outcome of their talks with Israel first.

The warring sides have stepped up negotiations, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, on a six-week suspension of Israel's offensive in return for the proposed release of 40 of the 130 hostages still held by the Palestinian militant group in Gaza.

Hamas has sought to parlay any deal into an end to the fighting and withdrawal of Israeli forces. Israel has ruled this out, saying it would eventually resume efforts to dismantle the governance and military capabilities of Hamas.

Hamas also wants hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled Gaza City and surrounding areas southward during the first stage of the war to be allowed back north. One Israeli official said his country was open to discussing allowing back only "some" of the displaced.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip since October 7, according to health authorities in the territory.

The war erupted after Hamas militants broke through the border and rampaged through communities in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and abducting 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel kept up its aerial and ground bombardment of the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing 82 Palestinians in the past 24 hours, the territory's health ministry said as fighting raged around Gaza City's main Al Shifa hospital.

The ministry added that Israeli forces in control of the hospital had blockaded 107 patients in the human resources department without water, electricity, or medication for several days, refusing all calls to evacuate them.

Armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said their fighters continued to battle Israeli forces around the medical facility, the Gaza Strip's biggest hospital before the war, which had been one of the few health care facilities even partially operational in north Gaza before the latest fighting.

The Israeli military said forces operating in Al Shifa killed three armed Hamas commanders inside two buildings of the medical facility. Forces located sniper rifles, AK-47s, magazines, and grenades during the activity, the military said.

Israel said it killed and detained hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen at Al Shifa during its raid there. Hamas and medical staffers deny any armed presence inside medical facilities, accusing Israel of killing and arresting civilians.

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