Hamas is considering an Israeli proposal for a cease-fire in Gaza

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CAIRO (AP) — Hamas said Saturday it was reviewing a new Israeli proposal for a cease-fire in Gaza, as Egypt intensified efforts to broker a deal to end the months-long war and stave off a planned Israeli ground offensive into the southern city of Rafah.
Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya gave no details of Israel’s offer, but said it was in response to a Hamas proposal two weeks ago.
Negotiations earlier this month centered on a six-week cease-fire proposal and the release of 40 civilian and sick hostages in exchange for freeing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
A separate Hamas statement said leaders from the three main militant groups active in Gaza discussed attempts to end the war.
It didn’t mention the Israeli proposal.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Israel’s proposal was directly related to the visit.
Hamas has said it won’t back down from demands for a permanent cease-fire and full withdrawal of Israeli troops.
An Israeli airstrike later Saturday on a building in Rafah killed seven people, including six members of the Ashour family, according to the morgue.

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Cairo stepped up efforts to mediate a settlement to end the months-long conflict and avert an Israeli ground assault into the southern city of Rafah. On Saturday, Hamas said it was examining a fresh Israeli proposal for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya did not provide specifics about Israel’s offer, but he did state that it was a reaction to a proposal made by Hamas two weeks prior. A six-week cease-fire proposal and the release of forty sick and civilian hostages in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails were the main points of negotiation earlier this month.

Chiefs of the three major militant groups operating in Gaza, according to a different statement from Hamas, talked about efforts to put an end to the conflict. It made no reference to the Israeli suggestion.

According to an Egyptian official who spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the developments, the statements were made hours after an Egyptian delegation concluded a visit to Israel where it discussed a “new vision” for a prolonged cease-fire in Gaza.

Whether Israel’s suggestion was specifically connected to the visit wasn’t immediately apparent.

A large number of displaced Palestinians would be returned to their homes in northern Gaza “with minimum restrictions,” according to the Egyptian official, and talks between Israeli and Egyptian officials centered on the first phase of the plan. This plan would involve a limited exchange of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners.

The official stated that mediators are striving to reach a compromise that will address the majority of the demands made by both sides. This could open the door to further discussions aimed at reaching an agreement to end the war.

According to Hamas, it will not back down from its demands for an Israeli troop pullout and a permanent cease-fire. Israel has rejected both and declared that it will keep up military operations in Gaza and maintain a security presence there until Hamas is vanquished.

Over half of Gaza’s 2 million residents have sought safety in Rafah, where there is increasing international pressure on Israel and Hamas to negotiate a cease-fire and prevent an Israeli attack.

Though there have been calls for restraint, including from Israel’s strongest ally, the United States, Israel has insisted for months that it plans a ground offensive into Rafah, on the border with Egypt, where it claims many remaining Hamas militants remain.

Egypt has issued a warning that an attack on Rafah might have “catastrophic consequences” for the peace and security of the region as well as for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, where famine is expected.

The Israeli military has gathered dozens of tanks and armored vehicles near Rafah in southern Israel, and they are conducting almost daily airstrikes on various locations within the city.

Records from the morgue at Abu Yousef al-Najjar hospital show that a man, his wife, and their sons, ages 12, 10, and 8, were killed early on Saturday when an airstrike struck a home in Rafah’s Tel Sultan neighborhood. There was also the death of a 4-month-old neighbor’s child.

Ahmed Omar and his neighbors hurriedly left the 1:30 a.m. m. they only discovered bodies and body parts while searching for survivors.

He pronounced, “It’s a tragedy.”.

Seven people were killed later on Saturday by an Israeli airstrike on a building in Rafah; six of the victims were members of the Ashour family, the morgue reported.

Officials from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital said that five people were killed overnight in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza when an Israeli strike struck a house.

The military said that two Palestinian men were shot and killed by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It claimed that the men had started shooting at soldiers positioned at the Salem checkpoint close to Jenin.

Since the war, violence in the West Bank has increased. 491 Palestinians have died as a result of Israeli fire, according to the Health Ministry in Ramallah.

Israel’s West Bank policies have drawn criticism from Washington. I. s. Prior to the conflict in Gaza, an army unit there violated human rights, according to information recently discovered by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is scheduled to visit Israel on Tuesday.

However, Blinken wrote U. in an undated letter. s. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson stated, in information obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, that he is delaying his decision to stop the unit’s aid in order to give Israel more time to make amends. Blinken emphasized that, in general, U. S. There would be no impact on military assistance for Israel’s defense.

The USA. S. has also been constructing a pier to use a new port to transport aid to Gaza. The Israeli military declared on Saturday that it will begin operations in the first part of May.

The BBC stated that the U.S. K. The government, according to unnamed government sources, was thinking of sending troops to operate the trucks that would deliver the aid to shore. British representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Three ships from Turkey that were part of another aid effort were reportedly stopped from sailing.

On American college campuses, student demonstrations against the war and its effects on Palestinians are becoming more widespread. s. , even though protests are still going on in many nations.

On October 10, Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel, starting the war. 7, with militants capturing about 250 hostages and killing about 1,200 people, the most of whom were civilians. About one hundred hostages and the remains of over thirty more are reportedly being held by the militants, according to Israel.

On Saturday, Hamas unveiled a video featuring hostages Omri Miran and Keith Siegel. The date of the video’s creation was unclear. Passover, a Jewish holiday that started on Monday, was mentioned in both. They demanded that Hamas and the Israeli government come to an agreement. Most likely, they were under pressure when they spoke.

In Gaza, which is governed by Hamas, the Health Ministry reports that over 34,000 Palestinians have died as a result of Israel’s offensive; women and children make up about two thirds of the dead. It does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. According to the ministry, thirty-two fatalities were admitted to nearby hospitals in the last twenty-four hours.

Israel accuses Hamas of infiltrating residential areas and is to blame for civilian casualties. Israel claims that since ground operations began, at least 260 soldiers have died.

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