Hopes rise for possible truce as Gaza conflict nears 7th month

Israel is set to send a delegation to Cairo for talks with Hamas on a new ceasefire proposal aimed at securing the release of hostages held in Gaza as the conflict lingers on for nearly seven months now.

The delegation, composed of security officials, will depart on Tuesday to discuss the deal with Egyptian brokers, an Israeli government source told Xinhua.

A Hamas delegation left Egypt after the talks and will “return with a written response” to the latest truce proposal, according to Egyptian sources quoted by Al-Qahera News, a site also linked to Egyptian intelligence services.

Abdul Latif al-Qanou, a spokesman for Hamas, said on Monday in a statement that “ensuring a permanent ceasefire is a fundamental cornerstone for moving towards the details of negotiations and the success of the agreement with the Israeli occupation.”

According to the Israeli state-owned Kan TV, in the revised proposal, Israel has agreed to reduce the number of hostages it demands to be released to 33.

Israel initially insisted that Hamas release a minimum of 40 hostages but altered its position upon learning that the actual number of surviving hostages was below 40.

Speaking on Monday at a World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Egypt was hopeful about a proposal for a truce and the release of hostages, but awaiting responses from Israel and Hamas.

“We are hopeful the proposal has taken into account the positions of both sides, has tried to extract moderation from both sides, and we are waiting to have a final decision,” Shoukry said.

A Palestinian official close to mediation efforts told Reuters: “Things look better this time,” but declined to say whether an agreement was imminent.

Israel’s military operation to eradicate Hamas has killed at least 34,480 Palestinians and wounded 77,643, according to Gaza’s health authorities. It has displaced most of the Palestinian enclave’s 2.3 million people and laid much of the area to waste.

The campaign was triggered by the October 7 attack on Israel in which Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and took 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

The conflict has brought Gaza to the brink of famine, United Nations and humanitarian aid groups say, while reducing much of the territory to rubble and raising fears of a wider regional conflict.

High temperatures in crowded Rafah have turned makeshift shelters made from plastic tarps into sweltering ovens. The UN has warned of diseases spreading.


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