Gaza Ceasefire Negotiations to Restart in Cairo Amid Ongoing Intense Clashes

Egypt was due to host the latest talks aimed at reaching a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Sunday, as Gaza officials reported more fatal shelling in the almost five-month-old conflict.

A senior Hamas official told AFP that a Palestinian team would meet with mediators to consider a proposal for a six-week truce, after a US source said Israel had “more or less accepted” the terms.

Envoys from the United States, Qatar, and Hamas have arrived in Cairo, state-run media said, as all sides try to reach an agreement before Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month that begins on March 10 or 11.

According to the Hamas source, if Israel meets its conditions, which include a military departure from Gaza and more humanitarian aid, it will “pave the way for an agreement within the next 24-48 hours”.

The health ministry in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip reported that at least 90 Palestinians had been murdered in the previous 24 hours, including 14 family members whose home in the southern Rafah refugee camp had been targeted.

In a reminder of the worsening humanitarian crisis in the narrow coastal region, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra claimed at least 16 children had died of malnutrition in recent days as “famine spreads in the Strip’s north”.

On Saturday, Israel’s main ally, the United States, began airdropping aid into war-torn Gaza, which has seen diminishing delivery of humanitarian goods across its borders.

According to the Hamas official, the organization will seek “the entry of at least 400 to 500 trucks per day” carrying food, medication, and fuel as part of the truce agreement.

Speaking to reporters late Saturday, the US official stated that “there’s a framework deal” for a truce that “the Israelis have more or less accepted”.

Israel had yet to indicate that it had approved the truce agreement or that it will attend the Cairo negotiations.

The US official stated that a ceasefire might begin today if Hamas agrees to release vulnerable hostages, including the sick, injured, old, and women.

“Right now, the ball is in the camp of Hamas.”

Osama Hamdan, a Hamas leader headquartered in Lebanon, told Qatar’s Al-Araby TV that the party demanded a permanent ceasefire rather than a “temporary” one, as well as an end to “the aggression against our people.”

‘Acute food insecurity’

As fears of widespread famine grew, US military jets dropped “over 38,000 meals” into Gaza, according to US Central Command, following numerous Arab and European governments that had done so since November.

However, officials and relief groups have stated that such operations cannot replace overland humanitarian access.

The UN Security Council expressed worry about “alarming levels of acute food insecurity,” citing a desperate rush for supplies from a convoy of trucks in Gaza City on Thursday, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of Palestinians.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the council emphasized “the need to take all necessary measures to protect civilians” and asked “parties to the conflict to allow, facilitate, and enable the immediate, rapid, safe, sustained, and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale”.

Several international leaders have asked for a probe into the aid truck storming, which the Gaza health ministry says killed 116 people.

The ministry said Israeli forces shot civilians, but the Israeli army insisted the majority killed in a stampede or crush.

A United Nations delegation that visited a Gaza City hospital reported witnessing “a large number” of bullet wounds among Palestinians following the event.

The supply convoy deaths brought the total number of war deaths in Gaza to at least 30,410, the majority of whom were women and children, according to the health ministry on Sunday.

The conflict began on October 7 with an unprecedented Hamas offensive on southern Israel, killing around 1,160 people, the majority of whom were civilians, according to an AFP calculation of government data.

Gaza terrorists also snatched 250 hostages, 130 of whom are still in captivity, according to Israel, with 31 thought dead.

50 targets

An AFP correspondent in southern Gaza, near the Egyptian border, reported that several airstrikes targeted Rafah and Khan Yunis overnight.

The Hamas government’s media bureau also claimed heavy tank firing in northern Gaza.

The Israeli military said its forces had carried out “an extensive series of strikes on terror targets” in Khan Yunis, the biggest city in south Gaza that has become a flashpoint of conflict in recent weeks.

According to the army, approximately 50 targets, including “underground terrorist infrastructure” and military locations, were attacked “within six minutes”.

Israeli bombardment late Saturday killed 11 people at a makeshift camp near a hospital in Rafah, where more than one million Gazans have taken sanctuary due to the war, according to the health ministry.

The Israeli army claimed it had carried out a “precision strike” in the region, targeting Palestinian militants.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced rising pressure to obtain the release of the remaining hostages, as well as a resurgent anti-government protest movement.

Rallies were conducted on Saturday in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with a relative of one of the hostages expressing hope that their release was a high priority.

Israeli officials “must seal this deal no matter what,” claimed Eyal Kalderon, the hostage’s cousin.

“I don’t know if they will have another chance. It’s now or maybe never.”


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