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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Gaza ceasefire negotiation talks to resume today in Cairo: Egyptian security

Biden said he hoped there would be a ceasefire deal between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas by the time of the Muslim fasting month of Ramazan, which starts on March 10

Reuters Cairo Published 03.03.24, 07:31 AM
Joe Biden

Joe Biden File image

Gaza ceasefire negotiations are due to resume in Cairo on Sunday, two Egyptian security sources said on Saturday, signalling continued efforts to secure a truce which US President Joe Biden hopes will be in place by March 10.

Biden said on Friday he hoped there would be a ceasefire deal between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas by the time of the Muslim fasting month of Ramazan, which starts on March 10.

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There was no immediate comment from Israel or Hamas, which have been negotiating via mediators including Egypt and Qatar.

The sources said that an incident on Thursday in which more than 100 Palestinians seeking aid were killed by Israeli fire according to Gazan authorities, had not slowed down the talks, but instead pushed negotiators to hasten to preserve progress.

Israel has blamed most of the deaths on crowds that swarmed around aid trucks, saying victims had been trampled or run over.

International pressure for a ceasefire has grown, with more than 30,000 Palestinians killed in Israel’s Gaza offensive, according to Gaza health authorities, and the UN warning that a quarter of the population is one step away from famine.

Vowing to wipe out Hamas, Israel launched the offensive in response to the group’s October 7 attack on Israeli towns, in which 1,200 people were killed in Israel and another 253 abducted, according to Israeli tallies.

The Egyptian sources said the parties had agreed on the duration of a Gaza truce, as well as hostage and prisoner releases, adding that the completion of the deal still requires an agreement on the withdrawal of Israeli forces from northern Gaza and a return of its residents.

A Palestinian official familiar with mediation efforts did not immediately confirm the Cairo talks. “When it comes to ending the war and pulling out forces out of Gaza, gaps remain unbridged,” the official said.

Speaking to reporters about a ceasefire as he left the White House on Friday, Biden said: “We’re not there yet.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki echoed the hope that a ceasefire would be agreed in time for Ramazan.

“We hope that we will be able to achieve a ceasefire before Ramazan, we hope to be able to achieve one today, yesterday, but we have failed,” Maliki, who represents the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, said during a visit to Turkey.

Israel killed at least 92 people and wounded 156 others over the past 24 hours in its ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, the Gaza health ministry said on Saturday.

In Beit Hanoun north of the blockaded strip, Israeli strikes killed three people who were searching for food in farmland, residents and medics said. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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