Fighting rages across Gaza amid revival of truce talks

Fighting rages across Gaza amid revival of truce talks

/ 07:04 AM April 01, 2024

Fighting rages across Gaza amid revival of truce talks

Smoke rises over Gaza following an explosion amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, on March 27, 2024. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

CAIRO — Israeli strikes killed 77 Palestinians in Gaza in the past 24 hours, health authorities said Sunday, as Egypt hosted an Israeli delegation for a new round of talks in a bid to secure a truce with Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The Israeli military said it killed a senior Islamic Jihad militant in a strike on a command centre in the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza. It did not mention his name or rank.

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“The command center and terrorists were struck precisely,” the military said, adding it was intended to minimize “harm to uninvolved civilians in the area of the hospital.”

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“The Al-Aqsa Hospital building was not damaged and its functioning was not affected.”

There was no immediate comment from Islamic Jihad, an ally of Hamas.

READ: Blinken warns Israel of global isolation if it attacks Rafah

Palestinian health officials and Hamas media said the strike hit several tents inside the Al-Aqsa Hospital, killing four people and wounding several, including five journalists.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military offensive in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the health authorities. Health officials say most of the fatalities are civilians, while Israel says at least a third are fighters.

The war erupted after Hamas militants broke through the border and rampaged through communities in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and abducting 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

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The two sides have stepped up negotiations, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, on a six-week suspension of Israel’s offensive in return for the proposed release of 40 of 130 hostages still held by Hamas militants in Gaza after their Oct. 7 attack.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed also on Sunday to keep up military pressure on Hamas, while showing flexibility in the talks, saying that only that combination would bring about the release of hostages.

Hamas wants to parlay any deal into an end to the war and withdrawal of Israeli forces. Israel rules this out, saying it would eventually resume efforts to dismantle the governing and military capacities of Hamas, which is sworn to its destruction.

Hamas would not be present at the talks in Cairo, an official told Reuters on Sunday, as it waited to hear from mediators on whether a new Israeli offer was on the table.

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The Gaza war has stoked long-simmering violence in the occupied West Bank, set off cross-border fighting with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and drawn missile launches against Israel from other Iranian-backed militias in Yemen and Iraq.

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TAGS: Gaza, Israel-Hamas war

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