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Egyptian official: Gaza ceasefire talks stalled

Gaza ceasefire talks have reached an impasse as Hamas insists on putting an end to the war on its agenda, Egyptian officials said Thursday.

After nearly five months of war, much of Gaza is in ruins, and international pressure is mounting on Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement to stop the fighting and release those held by Hamas. The remaining Israeli hostages.

The United States, Qatar, and Egypt have spent weeks trying to agree on a six-week ceasefire that would see Hamas release about 40 Israeli hostages held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli captivity.

Egyptian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that Hamas had tentatively accepted a proposal for a ceasefire as an initial step in the negotiation process. However, Hamas insisted on a commitment to eventually achieve a more permanent ceasefire, which Israel publicly rejected. Israel stated its intention to resume its offensive after the ceasefire, aiming to ultimately dismantle Hamas. In response, Hamas declared that it would not release all the remaining hostages unless Israel withdrew from Gaza. These developments highlight the complex and contentious nature of negotiations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Aid groups say Israel’s near-total blockade of Gaza and ongoing fighting have made it almost impossible to deliver supplies to much of Gaza. It is estimated that many people still living in northern Gaza rely on animal feed to survive.

Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7 last year killed 1,200 Israelis, most of them civilians. In addition, Hamas also kidnapped approximately 250 Israelis as hostages. In November last year, Hamas surrendered more than 100 hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

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Israel subsequently launched a retaliatory offensive against Gaza. According to Gaza health authorities, approximately 30,700 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict in Gaza, two-thirds of them women and children. This data does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. In addition, Gaza health authorities said that 72,000 people have been injured.

There are still days left until the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on March 11, the deadline for an informal agreement to be reached. Negotiators will also pressure Hamas and Israel to soften their positions, the two Egyptian officials said.

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