Heavy battles in Gaza City on eve of new truce talks


The war started with Hamas’s Oct 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

The militants seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 42 the military says are dead.

Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,193 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to figures from the territory’s health ministry.

Qatar has been engaged in months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, with support from Egypt and the United States, in efforts to reach a truce and and an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Hamas signalled last week that it would drop its insistence on a “complete” ceasefire, a demand Israel has repeatedly rejected.

Netanyahu’s office reiterated Sunday that “any deal will allow Israel to return and fight until all the goals of the war are achieved”, including the destruction of Hamas.

A Palestinian official with knowledge of the talks told AFP that while a Hamas delegation would take part in indirect talks with Israel, there were several “points of divergence”.

The official said these included Israel’s refusal to release some Palestinian prisoners serving long sentences, and questions on when Israel would withdraw from areas along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.

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