Hamas has received Israel’s ceasefire proposal response

Nidal al-Mughrabi |

As the war in Gaza drags on, negotiations for the release of hostages continue.
As the war in Gaza drags on, negotiations for the release of hostages continue.

Hamas says it has received Israel’s official response to its latest ceasefire proposal and will study it before submitting its reply, the group’s deputy Gaza chief said in a statement.

“Hamas has received today the official response of the Zionist occupation to the proposal presented to the Egyptian and the Qatari mediators on April 13,” Khalil Al-Hayya, who is currently based in Qatar, said in a statement published by the group on Saturday.

After more than six months of war with Israel in Gaza, the negotiations remain deadlocked, with Hamas sticking to its demands that any agreement must end the war.

Israeli forces gather at the border with Gaza
Israeli APCs at a gathering location on the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip. (EPA PHOTO)

An Egyptian delegation visited Israel for discussion with Israeli officials on Friday, looking for a way to restart talks to end the conflict and return remaining hostages taken when Hamas fighters stormed into Israeli towns on October 7, an official briefed on the meetings said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Israel had no new proposals to make, although it was willing to consider a limited truce in which 33 hostages would be released by Hamas, instead of the 40 previously under discussion.

On Thursday, the United States and 17 other countries appealed to Hamas to release all of its hostages as a pathway to end the crisis.

Hamas has vowed not to relent to international pressure but in a statement it issued on Friday it said it was “open to any ideas or proposals that take into account the needs and rights of our people”.

However, it stuck to its key demands that Israel has rejected, and criticised the joint statement issued by the U.S and others for not calling for a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday said he saw fresh momentum in talks to end the war and return the remaining hostages.

Internally displaced Palestinians in Rafah
Palestinians next to a sewage spill near tents for internally displaced people at Rafah camp, Gaza. (EPA PHOTO)

Citing two Israeli officials, Axios reported that Israel told the Egyptian mediators on Friday that it was ready to give hostage negotiations “one last chance” to reach a deal with Hamas before moving forward with an invasion of Rafah, the last refuge for around a million Palestinians who fled Israeli forces further north in Gaza earlier in the war.

The visit by the Egyptian delegation came a day after the United States and 17 other countries appealed to Hamas to release all of its hostages as a pathway to end the crisis in Gaza. Hamas vowed not to relent to international pressure.

Hamas said it was “open to any ideas or proposals that take into account the needs and rights of our people”. However it stuck to central demands Israel has rejected, and said it criticised the statement for not calling for a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

Meanwhile, in Rafah, Palestinian health officials said an Israeli air strike on a house killed at least five people and wounded others.

Hamas fighters stormed into Israeli towns on October 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages. Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas in an onslaught that has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians.

Reuters