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Gaza Ceasefire Diplomacy: Paris Mediators Strive to Prevent Israeli Offensive

Gaza Ceasefire Diplomacy

Peace mediators in Paris are trying to secure a ceasefire in Gaza in the hope of averting an Israeli offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah. More than one million displaced people have taken refuge in Rafah.

Israel has said it will attack the city if a ceasefire is not reached soon. Washington has urged its ally Israel not to do so, warning that such an attack would cause massive civilian casualties.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met with Egyptian mediators in Cairo over the past week to discuss a truce, his first visit since December. Israel has yet to comment publicly on the Paris talks, which are expected to last until the weekend.

A Hamas official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said the armed group had not made any new proposals in talks with Egypt and was waiting for mediators to bring back talks with Israel.

“We discussed our proposal with them (the Egyptian side), and we will wait until they return from Paris,” the media quoted a Hamas official as saying.

Late on Thursday, Netanyahu presented a formal post-war plan for Gaza to his security cabinet that included governance without Hamas leadership and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Israel has full security control over the enclave.

The plan calls for Israel to cooperate with Egypt and coordinate with the United States, with Israel controlling entry and exit along the southern border from Gaza to Egypt. It is unclear whether Egypt has approved the plan. CNN quoted an Israeli official as saying that Egypt was “aligned” with the United States on the plan, but that Washington favored a reformed Palestinian Authority role in Gaza.

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Media reports said Palestinian representatives who saw the plan rejected it. Parts of the plan also run counter to Washington’s vision for the region, which is a “two-state” solution involving an independent Palestinian state.

Similar ceasefire talks were held in Paris in early February but yielded no results. Hamas, which still holds more than 100 hostages since its attack on southern Israel on October 7, said it would release the hostages as part of a truce to secure Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’s proposal, calling it “delusional.”

Gaza airstrikes

At least 22 Palestinians were killed in an airstrike on a residential unit in Deir al-Bala, central Gaza, on Friday night (February 23), Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said. Killed.

Health officials said many family members of comedian Mahmoud Abu Zaeiter, who had 1.2 million online followers, were among the dead.

There was no immediate comment from Israel. Israel says it is minimizing harm to civilians as it attempts to eradicate Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip.

Earlier on Friday, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reported that Israeli air strikes in Gaza had killed more than 100 people in the past 24 hours.

Reports from Gaza showed Israeli airstrikes in the southern cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, with the Health Ministry reporting at least 104 deaths. The ministry said at least 29,514 Palestinians have been killed since fighting began in October.

While the disease spreads, Israeli bombing has leveled much of Gaza and pushed its population of about 2.4 million to the brink of famine, according to the United Nations.

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“We have reached a point of extreme poverty and hunger,” Zarifa Hamad, a 62-year-old displaced woman living in a refugee camp in northern Gaza, told the media. ‘Children are starving to death.’

West

Bank The Israeli military said on Friday that a drone strike late Thursday killed a suspected militant from the Islamic Jihad group in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. people.

The military issued a statement saying that Yasser Hanoun, who was shot dead, was walking on the road when the shooting occurred. The statement did not provide further details. The military said Hanun has been linked to past Islamic Jihad shootings.

Violence has increased in the West Bank since Hamas launched a terror attack on Israel on October 7.

Hamas seized approximately 240 hostages and killed 1,200 people in its attack on Israel on October 7. About 100 hostages were released during the November ceasefire. The Israeli military said it believed about 30 of the remaining hostages were dead or killed, while about 100 were still being held by Hamas.

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