Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Hamas Leader Visits Cairo as Talks Build for Another Gaza Cease-Fire
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 4 months ago on
December 20, 2023

Share

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Hamas’ top leader traveled to Cairo on Wednesday for talks on the war in Gaza, part of a flurry of diplomacy to secure another cease-fire and swap of hostages for Palestinian prisoners at a moment when Israel’s offensive shows no signs of slowing.

Hamas militants have put up stiff resistance lately, even as the Israeli army claims to be making progress in eradicating them.

The visit to Cairo by Ismail Haniyeh came a day after Hamas fired rockets that set off air raid sirens in central Israel. It was a show of strength after a 10-week war that has devastated much of northern Gaza, killed nearly 20,000 Palestinians, and driven some 1.9 million — nearly 85% of the population — from their homes.

Israel has called on the rest of the world to blacklist Hamas as a terrorist organization, saying it must be removed from power in Gaza in the wake of its Oct. 7 rampage across southern Israel that triggered the war.

Relaunch of Indirect Talks

But the sides have recently relaunched indirect talks, mediated by Egypt, Qatar and the United States. The goal is to achieve another cease-fire, and to free more hostages Hamas took in its attack in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

“These are very serious discussions and negotiations, and we hope that they lead somewhere,” the White House’s national security spokesman, John Kirby, said Wednesday aboard Air Force One while traveling with President Joe Biden to Wisconsin.

Biden, however, indicated a deal was still a ways off. “There’s no expectation at this point, but we are pushing,” he said.

Asked about the fast-rising death toll in Gaza, Biden said: “It’s tragic.”

Mobile phone and internet service was down across Gaza again on Wednesday. The outage could complicate efforts to communicate with Hamas leaders inside the territory who went into hiding after Oct. 7.

Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

The war has led to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tens of thousands of people are crammed into shelters and tent camps amid shortages of food, medicine and other basic supplies. Israel’s foreign minister traveled to Cyprus to discuss the possibility of establishing a maritime corridor that would allow the delivery of large amounts of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Wide Gap Remains in Talks on Hostages

Despite a burst of diplomacy by high-level officials in recent days, the two sides appeared far from an agreement.

Hamas has said no more hostages will be released until the war ends, and is expected to insist on the release of large numbers of Palestinian prisoners, including high-level militants, for the captives that remain.

Speaking about the postwar period in Gaza, a senior Hamas official appeared to criticize U.S. calls to bring back the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, which was ousted by Hamas in 2007. Whoever thinks that he can “come over on an American or Israeli tank to Gaza or any other part of Palestine, Palestinians will consider him an agent and traitor,” Osama Hamdan said in Beirut.

Israel has rejected Hamas’ demands for a mass prisoner release so far. But it has a history of lopsided exchanges for captive Israelis, and the government is under heavy public pressure to bring the hostages home safely.

Egypt, along with Qatar, helped mediate a weeklong cease-fire in November in which Hamas freed over 100 hostages in exchange for Israel’s release of 240 Palestinian prisoners. Hamas and other militants are still holding an estimated 129 captives.

Egypt, which borders Gaza, is deeply concerned about a potential influx of Palestinian refugees, fearing Israel will not allow them to return.

Israel Says ‘Final Clearing’ Underway in the North

At least 46 people were killed and more than 100 wounded early Wednesday after Israel bombarded the urban Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City, according to Munir al-Bursh, a senior Health Ministry official.

In southern Gaza, several women and children were among those brought into Nasser Hospital in the city of Khan Younis after strikes overnight and into Wednesday. A boy could be seen sobbing next to his wounded mother, who was laid out on a stretcher, before being lifted up and placed on her chest.

At least five people were killed and dozens injured in another strike that hit three residential homes and a mosque in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah Wednesday, health officials said.

The Israeli military said it had made a number of significant advances on Wednesday, pushing into what it said was the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza City, the neighborhood of Tufah.

It also said it had discovered a “vast tunnel network” under Gaza City that included command and control positions, meeting rooms and hideout apartments for top Hamas leaders. The army’s spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said the network led to places throughout Gaza, including major hospitals.

But the army also acknowledged a significant setback. An investigation into its soldiers’ mistaken shooting of three Israelis held hostage in Gaza found that, five days before the shooting, a military search dog with a body camera had captured audio of them shouting in Hebrew for help.

Hagari said the recording was not reviewed until after the hostages were killed while trying to make themselves known to Israeli forces.

The incident has sparked an uproar in Israel. The chief of the military has said the shooting was against its rules of engagement.

With the Palestinian death toll steadily rising, Israel has come under growing pressure to halt or scale back its offensive. But Israeli leaders vow to press ahead.

“We will continue the war until the end. It will continue until Hamas is destroyed, until victory,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday. “Whoever thinks we will stop is detached from reality,” saying every member of Hamas is “marked for death.”

The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Tuesday the death toll since the start of the war had risen to more than 19,600. It does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths.

Hamas and other militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in the Oct. 7 attack.

Israel’s military says 134 of its soldiers have been killed in the Gaza ground offensive. Israel says it has killed some 7,000 militants, without providing evidence. It blames civilian deaths in Gaza on Hamas, saying it uses them as human shields when it fights in residential areas.

UN Members Still Pushing US on Aid Resolution

U.N. Security Council members are negotiating an Arab-sponsored resolution to halt the fighting in some way to allow for an increase in desperately needed humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza. A vote on the resolution, first scheduled for Monday, was pushed back again until Thursday as talks continued in the hopes of getting the U.S. to support it or allow it to pass after it vetoed an earlier cease-fire call.

France, the United Kingdom and Germany — some of Israel’s closest allies — joined global calls for a cease-fire over the weekend.

The Biden administration has called on Israel to take greater steps to spare civilians but has continued to provide diplomatic and military support for the offensive.

Kirby said Wednesday that it’s important that a resolution include a condemnation of Hamas’ actions on Oct. 7, recognition that Israel needs to be able to defend itself and a significant commitment by member states to get humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

 

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Surprising Ways and Places You Can Use SNAP EBT Food Benefits

DON'T MISS

Californians Worry About Crime, Setting up a Ballot Measure Showdown

DON'T MISS

The Pickle Flavor Frenzy and Its Rise in Food Trends

DON'T MISS

Kate Hudson Had a Lifetime to Make a Record. The Result is ‘Glorious,’ Out in May

DON'T MISS

Long-Lost First Model of USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ Boldly Goes Home

DON'T MISS

California Leaders Take Sides in Monumental Supreme Court Case on Homelessness

DON'T MISS

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

DON'T MISS

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

DON'T MISS

Real Estate Experts Talk Fresno’s Economic Future. Are Tough Times Ahead?

DON'T MISS

Unlocking the Secrets to Fresno State’s Superb Baseball Season

UP NEXT

Iran Fires at Suspected Israeli Drones Near Isfahan Air Base, Nuclear Facility

UP NEXT

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

UP NEXT

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

UP NEXT

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

UP NEXT

Storm Dumps Record Rain and Floods Dubai’s Airport

UP NEXT

Myanmar’s Ousted Leader Suu Kyi Moved From Prison to House Arrest Due to Heat, Military Says

UP NEXT

The Latest | World Leaders Urge Israel Not to Retaliate for the Iranian Drone and Missile Attack

UP NEXT

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

UP NEXT

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

UP NEXT

Israeli Settlers Rampage Through a West Bank Village, Killing 1 Palestinian and Wounding 25

Kate Hudson Had a Lifetime to Make a Record. The Result is ‘Glorious,’ Out in May

1 day ago

Long-Lost First Model of USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ Boldly Goes Home

1 day ago

California Leaders Take Sides in Monumental Supreme Court Case on Homelessness

1 day ago

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

2 days ago

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

2 days ago

Real Estate Experts Talk Fresno’s Economic Future. Are Tough Times Ahead?

2 days ago

Unlocking the Secrets to Fresno State’s Superb Baseball Season

2 days ago

‘This Is How to Improve Reading Proficiency. We Just Have To Execute It’: FUSD Board President

2 days ago

Does Dyer Support (or Endorse) Bredefeld for Supervisor?

2 days ago

Get a 3D First Look at Merced’s High-Speed Rail Station Design

2 days ago

Surprising Ways and Places You Can Use SNAP EBT Food Benefits

Did you know that SNAP EBT benefits used to be called food stamps and that recipients can use those benefits to get healthy food in places o...

5 hours ago

5 hours ago

Surprising Ways and Places You Can Use SNAP EBT Food Benefits

5 hours ago

Californians Worry About Crime, Setting up a Ballot Measure Showdown

1 day ago

The Pickle Flavor Frenzy and Its Rise in Food Trends

1 day ago

Kate Hudson Had a Lifetime to Make a Record. The Result is ‘Glorious,’ Out in May

1 day ago

Long-Lost First Model of USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ Boldly Goes Home

1 day ago

California Leaders Take Sides in Monumental Supreme Court Case on Homelessness

2 days ago

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

2 days ago

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend