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regular-article-logo Saturday, 18 May 2024

Israel to attend new Gaza truce talks in Qatar despite rejecting long-awaited offer from Hamas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also said he had approved a plan for an assault on Rafah, the city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip where more than half of the territory’s 2.3 million residents are sheltering, though it gave no timeframe for such an attack

AP/PTI Cairo, Gaza Strip Published 16.03.24, 05:35 AM
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu File image

Israel said on Friday it would send a delegation to Qatar for fresh talks on a ceasefire and hostage release in Gaza, keeping faint hopes for a truce alive despite rejecting a long-awaited counter-offer from Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also said he had approved a plan for an assault on Rafah, the city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip where more than half of the territory’s 2.3 million residents are sheltering, though it gave no timeframe for such an attack.

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Negotiators failed this week to reach a ceasefire agreement for the Gaza war in time for the Ramzan holy month. But Washington and Arab mediators are still determined to reach a deal to head off an Israeli assault on Rafah and let in humanitarian aid to stave off mass starvation.

The first ship bringing food aid by sea arrived off the Gaza coast on Friday morning, where an aid agency says it is building a temporary jetty to offload it.

Meanwhile, Israel has emphasised that in the absence of a ceasefire deal, it is pressing on with war plans.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu has approved the plans for action in Rafah. The IDF (Israeli Defence Force) is preparing operationally and for the evacuation of the population,” Netanyahu’s office said.

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