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Monday, Apr 15, 2024

Gaza truce talks in Cairo as heavy fighting rages

Gaza truce talks in Cairo as heavy fighting rages

Key envoys from the US, Qatar, and Hamas convened in Cairo to negotiate a potential six-week truce, improve aid distribution, and arrange an exchange involving hostages and Palestinian detainees.
With Ramadan approaching on March 10 or 11, they aim to establish peace by then, but challenges persist, mainly due to Hamas's insistence on a full withdrawal of Israeli forces after nearly five months of war.

Israel has shunned the talks after Hamas refused Israel's request for a comprehensive list of living hostages. An Israeli newspaper reported the absence of the Israeli team in the Cairo discussions involving senior Hamas leaders deliberating on a new French-backed proposal.

In related developments, Arab ministers in Riyadh underscore the need for an immediate truce and secured humanitarian access. The Gulf Cooperation Council session, alongside meetings with Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan, focused on reinforcing ties and the Gaza situation.

Saudi Arabia's Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Qatar's Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani led these discussions, while Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry condemned actions in Gaza as systematic attempts to erase Palestine.

Pope Francis appealed for protected humanitarian access for Gaza civilians, advocating for an "immediate ceasefire" and the release of hostages.

Washington believes a ceasefire is within reach for Ramadan, but the conflicting parties show scant public retreat from their demands. With the Hamas delegation's arrival in Cairo, an agreement seems elusive, and Israeli officials have remained silent on the issue.

Furthermore, US envoy Amos Hochstein is expected in Beirut to facilitate reducing tensions along the Lebanese-Israeli border, pointing to possible imminent progress towards a Gaza ceasefire.

The conflict, which started on October 7 following a major Hamas attack, has seen significant casualties. The Gaza-appointed health ministry attributes the death toll to approximately 30,410, predominantly women and children, while reporting the abduction of 250 hostages, 130 of whom remain captive or are presumed dead by Israel.

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