Truce talks between Israel and Hamas to resume

Talks aimed at brokering a truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza will resume in Cairo today, according to reports by Egyptian outlet Al-Qahera, days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the green light for fresh negotiations.

“An Egyptian security source confirmed to Al-Qahera News the resumption of negotiations on a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Egyptian capital Cairo tomorrow,” an anchor for the channel, which is close to country’s intelligence services, said in a broadcast yesterday.

Egypt, Qatar and key Israeli ally the United States have mediated previous rounds of negotiations, but a workable agreement has remained elusive.

The mediators had hoped to secure a ceasefire before the start of Ramadan, but progress stalled and the Muslim holy month is more than half over.

On Friday, Mr Netanyahu approved a new round of ceasefire negotiations to take place in Doha and Cairo.

His office said the Israeli premier had spoken to Mossad chief David Barnea about the talks, but did not elaborate on whether Barnea would be travelling to either city.

Reports of the new talks in Cairo came as protesters in Israel’s biggest city blocked a major road yesterday following demonstrations calling for the release of hostages held in Gaza and criticising the government’s handling of the war.

Militants seized about 250 hostages during the 7 October attacks on Israel that sparked the war. Of those, Israel believes 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

A key element of the ceasefire negotiations has been an agreement on releasing the hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

France’s top diplomat was also in Cairo yesterday for meetings with his Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts, with all three calling for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire” in Gaza and the release of all the hostages.

French foreign minister Stephane Sejourne also said his government would put forward a draft resolution at the UN Security Council setting out a “political” settlement of the war that would include “all the criteria for a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Monday, the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, and a UN court ordered Israel on Thursday to “ensure urgent humanitarian assistance” reaches civilians there, though neither development appears to have changed the situation on the ground.

Hamas’s 7 October attacks resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign against Hamas in Gaza has killed at least 32,705 people, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Meanwhile, a second shipment of food aid is on its way to Gaza having set sail from Cyprus.

Two vessels are transporting about 400 tonnes of supplies following a 200-tonne delivery of aid to Gaza earlier this month.

James Elder of the UN’s Children’s Agency, UNICEF, has called on Israel to allow agencies to bring in more aid by road.

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