Join our brand new verified AMN Telegram channel and get important news uncensored!

Truce talks between Israel and Hamas advance, US official says

Israeli soldiers stand near firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze engulfing trees after rockets fired from southern Lebanon hit an area in the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel on July 4, 2024. Lebanon's Hezbollah said it launched more than 200 rockets and explosive drones at Israeli military positions on July 4 as tensions have soared amid the almost nine-months-old war raging in Gaza. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Hamas has broadly agreed to the framework of a cease-fire proposal with Israel, a senior U.S. administration official said, though mechanics of the deal have yet to be resolved.

The response was received earlier this week through Qatari officials, who have served a key intermediary between Hamas and Israel, along with Egypt. Calling the response encouraging, the official said it may provide the basis for an agreement that initially would lead to the release from the Gaza Strip of sick, wounded, female and older male hostages taken from Israel in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

The official spoke after a half-hour phone meeting between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The official said the movement was significant enough that Israel is sending a delegation to negotiate in Qatar, talks in which U.S. officials will also take part.

The movement — aimed at final implementation in the fall, the U.S. official said — comes as fighting escalates between Israel and the Hezbollah, the powerful militia in Lebanon.

Hezbollah militants stepped up their aerial assault across the Lebanese border into northern Israel, saying they fired more than 200 missiles and a “swarm of drones” at a number of Israeli army positions. The group said it was responding to Israel’s assassination of a senior commander on Wednesday.

Sirens went off as far south as Acre, which is rare, and shrapnel from an intercepted missile hit a mall in the city.

The escalating skirmishes between Israel and Hezbollah are raising fears about a full-blown regional conflict that could draw in the U.S. and Iran. The militant group is the most powerful of Tehran’s allied proxy groups and fought a war with Israel in 2006.

The two sides have been trading fire since the start of the war in Gaza, when Hezbollah launched rockets in solidarity with Hamas. The Lebanon-based group, which like Hamas is supported by Iran and designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., has said it won’t stop until Israel ceases its campaign in Gaza.

The worsening tensions have weighed on Israeli bonds and helped push up oil prices in the past month.

A Hamas official, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations, said the new cease-fire proposal remains in line with the group’s longstanding demands, including the retreat of Israeli forces and the return of displaced civilians to their homes in Gaza. However, the new offer doesn’t insist on a full withdrawal of Israeli troops in the initial stage, Israel’s Channel 13 said, citing an Israeli source it didn’t identify.

While light on detail, the reports suggest Hamas and Israel may be edging closer to an agreement that would at least bring fighting to a temporary halt. Biden released a three-part peace plan at the end of May that neither side has so far seemed willing to adopt in full, partly because Hamas insisted on the permanent departure of Israeli troops.

Israel has resisted that demand, saying the military won’t end its campaign until Hamas is completely eradicated as a military organization. Netanyahu’s government has committed to the idea of a temporary cease-fire as a way to release hostages seized on Oct. 7, when Hamas fighters attacked the country’s south and triggered the conflict.

Hamas killed 1,200 people in Israel on Oct. 7 and took about 250 hostage. Around 120 remain in captivity, although at least 40 are believed to be dead.

Israel’s retaliatory military campaign has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health authority in Gaza, which doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants. The Israeli military has destroyed large swathes of the enclave and provoked a humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

The U.S., Qatar and Egypt have worked to broker a hostage deal and cease-fire for months. Fighting has continued unabated since a week-long pause — the only one so far — that ended at the beginning of December.


© 2024 Bloomberg L.P

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.