Israel-Hamas war: Blinken will brief Israeli leaders on Gaza ceasefire talks


TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to meet Israeli leaders on Wednesday as Hamas suggested it was open to a new ceasefire and hostage release deal, but both sides have remained elusive. Stuck on goals. The war has entered its fifth month.

More than 27,000 Palestinians have been killed in the deadliest period of fighting in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. leveled the entire neighborhoodA large part of Gaza’s population was expelled from their homes and pushed One quarter of the population heading towards starvation,

Iran-backed terrorist groups across the region have carried out attacks, mostly against US and Israeli targets, in solidarity with the Palestinians, retaliating as the risk of a wider conflict increases.

Israel is deeply troubled by Hamas’ October 7 attackin which militants breached the country’s security apparatus and carried out acts of sabotage throughout southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 250, about half of whom are held in captivity in Gaza. .

The United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt have proposed a ceasefire of several weeks in exchange for a phased release of the hostages. Hamas responded to the proposal late Tuesday, saying it was a “positive sentiment” while reiterating its main demands of an end to Israeli attacks and the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners, which President Joe Biden described as “a little over the top.” Said. ,

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the war will continue until “complete victory” over Hamas and the return of all remaining hostages.

Blinken, who is on his fifth visit to the region since the war began, is trying to advance ceasefire talks by pushing for a major post-war agreement that would include Saudi Arabia’s return to “clear, credible” Will normalize relations with Israel. , a timely path to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

But Netanyahu, who is increasingly unpopular, is opposed to Palestinian statehood, and his aggressive ruling coalition could collapse if he is seen to be making too many concessions.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,” Blinken acknowledged. But he said he still believed a deal on the hostages was possible. At a news conference in Qatar on Tuesday he said the path to a more lasting peace was “more and more rapidly coming into focus” but would require “tough decisions” by the region’s leaders.

Grief deepens in devastated Gaza

There is little talk of a grand diplomatic bargain in Gaza, where Palestinians yearn for an end to the fighting that has upended every aspect of their lives.

“We pray to God that this stops,” said Ghazi Abu Issa, who fled his home and took refuge in the central city of Deir al-Balah. “There is no water, electricity, food or bathrooms.” People living in tents have been drenched by winter rains and floods. “We have been humiliated,” he said.

The death toll of Palestinians in the four-month war has reached 27,585, according to Ministry of Health in Hamas-run areas, The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count but says most of the dead are women and children.

Hamas continues to maintain strong resistance throughout the region, and Its police force is back on the streets In places where Israeli troops have retreated. Hamas is still holding more than 130 people hostage, but about 30 of them are believed to have died, the majority of whom died on 7 October.

Israel has ordered Palestinians to vacate the areas that make up two-thirds of the small coastal region. It includes the pre-war homes of three-quarters of Gaza’s 2.3 million people, according to the UN humanitarian office. Most of the displaced are concentrated in the southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt, where many are living in squalid tent camps and UN-run shelters.

Israel is distressed by the fate of the hostages

In Israel, attention has focused on the plight of the hostages, with family members and the broader public calling for a deal with Hamas, fearing that time is running out. Israeli forces have rescued only one hostage, while Hamas says several people were killed in Israeli airstrikes and failed rescue operations.

More than 100 hostages, mostly women and children, were freed during a week-long ceasefire in November in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinians captured by Israel.

Thousands of people have taken part in weekly protests demanding the release of the hostages and new elections. But Netanyahu is grateful Far-right coalition partners Who have threatened that if they agree too much in the talks, they will topple the government.

This could end Netanyahu’s long political career and he could be prosecuted long standing allegations of corruption,

But the longer the war drags on, the greater the threat it poses to other countries, trapping the US and its allies in an even more unstable region.

Low-intensity border clashes have been ongoing between Israel and Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah militant group since the war in Gaza began and the Israeli-occupied West Bank has seen an increase in violence as Israel launched nightly arrest raids Are.

Iran-backed groups have carried out dozens of attacks on US military targets in Syria and Iraq, killing three US soldiers last week. wave of retaliatory air strikes, The US and Britain have also launched strikes against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen in response to attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea. and disruption of global trade,

The Houthis, who characterize their attacks as a blockade of Israel but have targeted ships with no known ties to the country, attacked Two more ships early Tuesday,


Shurafa reported from Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, and Magdy reported from Cairo.


Follow AP’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas war


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