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Israel-Hamas Gaza Conflict: Egyptian Mediators Attempt to Restart Peace Talks Amid Looming Rafah Attack

Israel-Hamas Gaza Conflict

As Israel attacks Rafah imminently, Egyptian mediators try to restart Israel-Kazakhstan peace talks

The Egyptian delegation, led by senior intelligence official Abbas Kamel, is in Israel negotiating a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, with the release of 33 Palestinian hostages being a key point of discussion. While Hamas is open to a ceasefire, they are standing firm on their demands for a permanent ceasefire and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops, which Israel rejects.

International pressure is mounting for a ceasefire as the conflict in Gaza continues to escalate, with concerns about potential attacks on Rafah and the influx of Palestinian refugees. Efforts are being made to reach a compromise and prevent further violence in the region.

A delegation of senior Egyptian mediators traveled to Israel on Friday (April 26) in an attempt to open a new round of negotiations between Israel and Hamas. At present, Israel may be about to attack the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which borders Egypt.

An Egyptian official, who spoke to the media on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the mission, said senior Egyptian intelligence official Abbas Kamel was leading the delegation and planned to discuss Gaza with Israel. A “new vision” for a long-term ceasefire.

According to the official, Israel is willing to consider a limited truce and exchange 33 hostages for Palestinian prisoners, which would help push negotiations towards an end to the war.

According to Israeli media reports, Israeli intelligence officials said that Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups are still holding 133 hostages, of whom 33 are women, elderly, and sick.

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The official said mediators were working on a compromise that would meet most of the main demands of both sides, but added that Israel had not made any new proposals.

The official noted that if such an agreement was reached, the temporary truce would not last more than six weeks.

In a statement on Friday, Hamas criticized a proposal by the United States and 17 other countries to release all hostages as a way to end the crisis in Gaza, saying it failed to meet Palestinian demands.

Hamas is open to the idea of ​​a ceasefire and stands by its main demands, the statement added.

Hamas has said it will not abandon its demands for a permanent ceasefire and a full withdrawal of Israeli troops, but Israel has rejected both demands. Israel has said it will continue military operations until Hamas is defeated and will maintain a security presence in Gaza thereafter.

“We have nothing new from our side,” senior Hamas official Basem Naim told the media when asked about the negotiations before the talks began.

Egypt has a vested interest in the negotiations because it is deeply concerned about Israel’s offensive against the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which borders Egypt. Egypt fears such an offensive could lead to an influx of Palestinian refugees.

More than half of Rafah’s 2.3 million people are people fleeing other war-torn areas of Gaza who have found refuge in the enclave’s southern tip.

“The Egyptians have really taken over the burden here. Egypt wants to see progress, especially because it is worried about future actions against Rafah,” the Egyptian official said.

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Meanwhile, the Israeli military mobilized dozens of tanks and armored vehicles in southern Israel, near Rafah, apparently preparing to storm the city.

The Egyptian official said Abbas Kamel, the head of Egypt’s intelligence service, planned to make it clear that Egypt “will not tolerate” the deployment of Israeli troops along the border.

The official also said intelligence shared by Egypt with the United States and European countries showed an attack on Rafah would anger the entire region.

Qatar, which previously brokered the deal, has been increasingly sidelined by its failure to respond to Israeli demands to expel Hamas leaders from its territory or restrict its finances, the official said.

“Qatar is still involved, but in a less capable capacity. It is clear to everyone that they have failed to deliver on their promises, even on issues of expelling Hamas or closing their bank accounts,” the official said.

As the war in Gaza drags on and casualties continue to mount, international pressure is growing on Hamas and Israel to reach a ceasefire agreement.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi warned on Wednesday that an Israeli attack on Rafah would have “catastrophic consequences for the humanitarian situation in the strip and for regional peace and security.”

The Egyptian leader’s office said Sisi made the remarks during a phone call with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Egypt also claims that an attack on Rafah would violate a decades-old peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

The Israel-Hamas war was triggered by Hamas’s terrorist attack on southern Israel on October 7. In the attack, militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took about 250 people hostage. Israel said militants still held more than 100 hostages and the bodies of more than 30 people.

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According to local health officials, more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war. Gaza’s health ministry does not distinguish between combatants and civilians but says about two-thirds of the dead were children and women.

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