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Hamas says latest cease-fire talks have ended. Israel vows a military operation soon : NPR

Israeli soldiers drive a tank through a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel on Sunday.

Tsafrir Abayov/AP

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Tsafrir Abayov/AP

Israeli soldiers drive a tank through a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel on Sunday.

Tsafrir Abayov/AP

JERUSALEM — The latest round of Gaza ceasefire talks ended in Cairo after “deep and serious discussions,” the Hamas militant group said Sunday, reiterating key demands that Israel has again rejected . After initial signs of progress, the outlook appeared to darken as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to resist international pressure to end the war.

Israel closed its main crossing point to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza following the Hamas attack. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant claimed Hamas was not serious about a deal and warned of “a powerful operation in the very near future in Rafah and other locations throughout Gaza.” .

Israel did not send a delegation to the talks brokered by Egypt and Qatar. Egyptian state media reported that the Hamas delegation had traveled for talks to Qatar, where the group has a political office, and would return to Cairo on Tuesday for further negotiations.

Another threat to the negotiations came when Israel ordered the closure of local offices of Qatar’s satellite news network Al Jazeera, accusing it of broadcasting anti-Israel incitement. The ban does not appear to affect the channel’s operations in Gaza or the West Bank.

Netanyahu, under pressure from his government’s hardliners, continued to lower his expectations for a ceasefire, calling Hamas’s main demands “extreme,” including the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. and the end of the war. That would amount to a surrender after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that sparked the fighting, he said.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said earlier in a statement that the militant group was serious and positive about the negotiations and that stopping Israeli aggression in Gaza was the main priority.

But the Israeli government has again pledged to continue a military operation in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost town on the border with Egypt, where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are now seeking refuge from Israeli attacks. Rafah is a key entry point for aid.

Main crossing point for aid delivery to Gaza now closed

Kerem Shalom, now closed, is another. The Israeli military reported that 10 projectiles were launched at the crossing into southern Israel and said its warplanes then struck the source. Hamas said it targeted Israeli soldiers in the area. Israel’s Channel 12 television said 10 people were injured, three of them seriously. It was unclear how long the passage would be closed.

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, called for an independent investigation and “accountability for the blatant disregard for aid workers”. He also said Israel had this week denied him entry to Gaza for the second time.

The closure of Kerem Shalom came shortly after the head of the UN World Food Program claimed “widespread famine” in devastated northern Gaza, one of the most prominent warnings yet of the consequences restrictions on entry assistance. These comments did not constitute a formal declaration of famine.

In further remarks as the full NBC interview was released, WFP chief Cindy McCain said the famine was “moving south” in Gaza and that Israel’s efforts to allow more help was not enough. “We currently have a mass at the external border, enough trucks and enough food for 1.1 million people for about three months. We need to integrate that,” she said.

Gaza’s vast humanitarian needs are putting pressure on the continuation of a ceasefire. The proposal that Egyptian mediators submitted to Hamas calls for a three-step process that would result in an immediate six-week ceasefire and the partial release of Israeli hostages taken on October 7, and which would include some sort of Israeli withdrawal . The initial phase would last 40 days. Hamas would begin by releasing female civilian hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Netanyahu said Israel had shown a willingness to make concessions, but said it would “continue the fight until all its goals are achieved.” This includes the stated goal of crushing Hamas. Israel says it must target Rafah to strike fighters who remain there, despite warnings from the United States and other countries about the danger to civilians.

An Israeli strike on Sunday on the al-Attar family home in an urban refugee camp near Rafah killed four children, including a baby, and two adults, according to Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital.

Another Israeli strike on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza killed at least five people, according to the Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, which received the bodies. The Israeli army said it had struck a Hamas command center in central Gaza. It makes no mention of the victims.

In a fiery speech marking Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu added: “I tell world leaders that no pressure, no decision from an international forum will prevent Israel from defend”.

Hamas’ October 7 cross-border attack killed some 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage. Israel says militants still hold around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others. Netanyahu is under increasing pressure from the families of some hostages to reach a deal to end the war and free the hostages.

The Israeli air and ground offensive has killed more than 34,500 people, according to Palestinian health officials, who do not differentiate between civilians and fighters but say women and children make up the majority of those killed.

Israel blames Hamas for civilian deaths, accusing it of establishing itself in residential and public areas. The Israeli military claims to have killed 13,000 militants, without providing evidence to support its claims.

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