Hamas says it is considering Israel’s Gaza ceasefire proposal

Hamas announced on Saturday that it is considering a new Israeli proposal for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, a move that comes amid efforts to break an impasse in negotiations between the militant group and Israel. It is.

The statement came amid growing expectations of an Israeli invasion of Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where more than a million people have fled. Humanitarian groups have warned that such attacks would have devastating consequences for civilians.

A senior Hamas official, Khalil al-Khayya, said in a statement that Hamas had received Israel’s response to the proposal it submitted to Egyptian and Qatari mediators two weeks ago. Al-Haya did not provide details included in the Israeli proposal, but Hamas said it would respond after the group finished considering the proposal.

A delegation of Egyptian government officials visited Israel on Friday to advance negotiations between Israel and Hamas, according to an Israeli official familiar with the trip. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to communicate with the media.

In recent weeks, negotiations aimed at achieving a ceasefire and the release of hostages in the Gaza Strip have stalled amid disputes over the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the duration of a cessation of fighting. Hamas has called for a permanent ceasefire, but Israel has said it is open to a temporary halt.

Another key issue is whether Israel will allow displaced Palestinians to return to the north. Hamas officials say Palestinians should be able to return en masse, while Israeli officials say Israel wants to set limits on who can return, where and how.

The impasse means Palestinians in Gaza continue to suffer from Israel’s devastating bombing campaign, which has caused destruction across the strip and killed more than 34,000 people, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. The ministry’s figures do not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israeli hostages have also been prevented from being reunited with their families, and many have become increasingly critical of the Israeli government’s failure to secure the freedom of their loved ones.

Calls for ceasefire negotiations are gaining urgency as Israel threatens to press ahead with an invasion of Rafah. Earlier this week, Israeli military officials said Israel would expand a designated “humanitarian zone” along the coast to accommodate more civilians if it launched an invasion of Rafah. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal review.

The comments were one of the first signs of Israeli military plans against civilians if they launch a major ground offensive in the area.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is scheduled to visit Israel next week, a visit that comes as the United States urges Israel not to conduct large-scale military operations in Rafah.

Israeli officials have repeatedly said entry into Rafah was necessary to fight the Hamas battalion in Rafah, but Israel’s allies have warned that the people flocking to Rafah, many of them in makeshift tents in a large encampment. have expressed grave concerns about the implications of the invasion for those living in the .

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