Hamas says Israeli ceasefire proposal under review


Emergency teams have scoured the shattered city of Khan Younis after Israeli troops withdrew.
Emergency teams have scoured the shattered city of Khan Younis after Israeli troops withdrew.

Hamas says an Israeli proposal on a ceasefire in their war in Gaza does not meet the demands of Palestinian militant factions but it will study the offer further and deliver its response to mediators.

The proposal was handed to the Palestinian Islamist movement by Egyptian and Qatari mediators at talks in Cairo that aim to find a way out of the devastating war in the Gaza Strip, which is in its seventh month.

Residents said Israeli forces kept up air strikes on Deir al-Balah in central Gaza and Rafah on the enclave’s southern edge on Tuesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly flagged plans for a ground assault on Rafah, where more than one million displaced civilians are holed up, despite international pleas for restraint.

The talks in Cairo, also attended by the director of the US Central Intelligence Agency William Burns, have so far failed to reach a breakthrough towards pausing the war.

“The movement (Hamas) is interested in reaching an agreement that puts an end to the aggression on our people. Despite that, the Israeli position remains intransigent and it didn’t meet any of the demands of our people and our resistance,” Hamas said in a statement following the latest ceasefire proposal.

It said it would review the proposal further and go back to the mediators with its response.

Hamas wants any agreement to secure an end to the Israeli military offensive, a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and to allow displaced people to return to their homes across the densely populated enclave.

Israeli soldiers
Israel pulled back most of its ground forces from southern Gaza this week after months of fighting. (AP PHOTO)

Israel wants to secure the release of hostages seized by Hamas in the October 7 cross-border rampage that triggered the conflict. 

It says it will not end the war until it annihilates Hamas, which has run Gaza since 2007.

The United States is pushing hard for a ceasefire, after telling its ally Israel to do more to protect civilians in Gaza and let in more aid to prevent a famine.

In Washington DC, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said 400 aid trucks had been cleared to enter Gaza the previous day, describing it as the most since the war started six months ago. 

He said a good ceasefire offer had been presented to Hamas, which should accept it.

Israel pulled back most of its ground forces from southern Gaza this week after months of fighting but still says it plans to launch an assault on Rafah, on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, where more than half of Gazans are now sheltering.

In one of the first signs of concrete preparations for a ground assault, Israeli media reported on Tuesday that the Israeli defence ministry was purchasing 40,000 tents ahead of an evacuation of the city.

Netanyahu said Israel’s aims were to release the hostages and to secure total victory over Hamas. 

Of the 253 people Hamas seized on October 7, 133 hostages remain captive. 

Negotiators have spoken of about 40 going free in the first stage of a deal.

Hamas fighters killed 1200 people in southern Israel in the lightning October 7 attack, according to Israeli tallies. 

At least 33,360 Palestinians have been confirmed killed in six months of war, Gaza’s health ministry said in an update on Tuesday, with thousands more dead feared unrecovered in the rubble. 

Most of the enclave’s 2.3 million people are homeless and many at risk of famine.

Palestinian emergency teams supported by international organisations scoured the rubble of al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and the shattered city of Khan Younis in the south following the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

So far the teams have recovered 409 bodies of Palestinians killed in the hospital and its surrounding neighbourhood and in Khan Younis, according to Mahmoud Basal, spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza Civil Emergency Service. 

Israel said al-Shifa was used as a militant base, which Hamas denies.