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Still no deal in truce talks as Israel downplays chances of ending war with Hamas

A delegation from the militant group Hamas was in Cairo on Saturday as part of ongoing ceasefire talks with Israel, while an Israeli official downplayed prospects of a complete end to the war.

Saturday’s ceasefire negotiations ended without developments, a senior Hamas source close to the Cairo talks told CBS News. The source added that “tomorrow a new cycle will begin.”

Israel said it would not send a delegation to the negotiations until Hamas responded to Israel’s latest proposal. An adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News on Saturday that “the end of the war will come with the end of Hamas in Gaza.”

Director of the CIA William Burns traveled to Cairo, Egypt, for the talks on Friday, two U.S. officials and a source familiar with the matter told CBS News. The visit follows a series of technical discussions and a new proposal from Israel that U.S. officials described as “generous.”

The latest ceasefire agreement proposed by the mediators is based on an exchange of hostages. According to the agreement, the break would be several weeks. For every hostage released by Hamas, Israel would release a greater number of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Pressure has increased to reach a deal: the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is escalating dramatically as Israel insists it will launch an offensive on Rafah, the territory’s southernmost city.

The stakes are high to stop what’s almost happening seven month war. More than a million Palestinians have taken refuge in the town of Rafah along the border with Egypt, many of them fleeing northern Gaza, where a senior UN official says there are now widespread famine.

Egyptian and US mediators have signaled signs of compromise in recent days, but the chances of a ceasefire deal remain tied to the key question of whether Israel will agree to end the war without achieving its stated goal to destroy Hamas.

Egypt’s official Al-Qahera newspaper said on Saturday that consensus had been reached on many controversial points, but gave no details. Hamas has called for a complete end to the war and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Gaza.

Members of the Palestinian Civil Defense evacuate survivors of the Israeli bombing of a residential building of the Abu Alenan family in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, May 4, 2024.

Ismaël Abou Dayyah / AP

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to Israel for his seventh visit to the country since Hamas militants staged their bloody October 7 terrorist attack on the Jewish state, instantly triggering the war in the group’s stronghold in the Gaza Strip.

Upon his arrival, Blinken said the Biden administration was “committed” to seeing Hamas and Israel agree to a ceasefire in the conflict, which health officials in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory say killed more than 34,000 people, most of them women. and children. Desperate for more American support, Israelis gathered outside Blinken’s hotel in Tel Aviv, some of them holding signs expressing hope that American pressure would help bring home the remaining 133 hostages who are believed to still be detained in Gaza, including five US nationals believed to be alive.

Meanwhile, the White House urged Netanyahu’s government to limit the scale of its operations in Rafah, and the UN chief renewed his warning that a military offensive in the city would constitute “an unbearable escalation, killing thousands more civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.”

The conflict erupted on October 7, when Hamas attacked southern Israel, kidnapping around 250 people and killing around 1,200, mostly civilians.

A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing negotiations, downplayed prospects of a complete end to the war. The official said Israel was committed to the Rafah invasion and told The Associated Press it would not agree under any circumstances to end the war as part of a deal to free the hostages .

A strike in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza killed three people, hospital officials said.

Over the past 24 hours, the bodies of 32 people killed by Israeli strikes have been transported to local hospitals, the Gaza Health Ministry announced on Saturday. The ministry does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its counts, but says women and children make up about two-thirds of those killed.

The Israeli military claims to have killed 13,000 militants, without providing evidence to support its claims. It also made mass arrests during its raids inside Gaza.

Gaza’s health ministry also urged the International Criminal Court on Saturday to investigate the death of a Gaza surgeon while in Israeli custody. Adnan al-Borsh, 50, was working at al-Awda hospital when Israeli troops stormed it, detaining him and others inside in December, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

This week, in related news, Israel informed Biden administration officials of its intention to evacuate civilians ahead of the Rafah operation, according to U.S. officials familiar with the talks.

The United Nations has warned that hundreds of thousands of people would be “in imminent danger of death” if Israel entered the densely populated city, which is also a key entry point for humanitarian aid.

The U.S. director of the U.N. World Food Program, Cindy McCain, said Friday that civilians trapped in the north, the most isolated part of Gaza, were being plunged into starvation. McCain said a ceasefire and a significantly increased flow of aid by land and sea routes were essential.

Israel recently opened new aid crossings into northern Gaza, but on Wednesday Israeli settlers blocked the first convoy before it entered the besieged enclave. Once inside Gaza, the convoy was commandeered by Hamas militants, before UN officials took it back.

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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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