Fighting rages across Gaza amid revival of truce talks

Written by Nidal Al-Maghribi

CAIRO (Reuters) – Israeli strikes killed 77 Palestinians in Gaza in the past 24 hours, health authorities said on Sunday, as Egypt hosted an Israeli delegation in a new round of talks in an attempt to reach a truce with the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Gaza. .

The Israeli army said that it killed a prominent activist in the Islamic Jihad movement in a raid on a command center in the courtyard of Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza.

“The command center and the terrorists were precisely struck, with the aim of minimizing harm to uninvolved civilians in the hospital area,” the army said. He added, “The Al-Aqsa Hospital building was not damaged and its work was not affected.”

There was no immediate comment from the Islamic Jihad movement, an armed group and ally of Hamas.

Palestinian health officials and Hamas media said the strike hit several tents inside Al-Aqsa Hospital, killing four people and wounding others, including five journalists.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli military attack on Gaza since October 7, according to health authorities.

The war broke out after Hamas militants breached the border and invaded communities in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and kidnapping 253 hostages, according to Israeli statistics.

The two sides intensified negotiations, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, regarding suspending the Israeli attack for a period of six weeks in exchange for the proposed release of 40 out of 130 hostages still being held by Hamas militants in Gaza after their October 7 attack on southern Israel. .

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Hamas sought to exploit any agreement to end the fighting and withdraw Israeli forces. Israel ruled this out, saying it would eventually resume efforts to dismantle Hamas's ruling and military capabilities.

An official told Reuters on Sunday that Hamas would not attend the talks in Cairo while it waited to hear from mediators about whether a new Israeli offer was on the table.

In the city of Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued to besiege the two main hospitals, and tanks bombed areas in the central and eastern regions of the Strip.

Palestinian health officials said that an Israeli air strike killed nine people in Bani Suhaila near Khan Yunis, while another air strike killed four people in the Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza City said that Israeli forces continued their work inside Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in the Strip. Residents living nearby said that Israeli forces destroyed residential neighborhoods near Shifa.

Abu Mustafa (49 years old) said: “I went out to buy some medicine from a pharmacy and what I saw was heartbreaking. The streets and the buildings that were standing there were completely destroyed.”

“…This is not war, this is genocide,” he told Reuters by phone from Gaza City.

Like the rest of Gaza's 2.3 million people, Abu Mustafa, a father of six, is struggling to provide food for his family in the northern Strip, where the United Nations has warned that famine is imminent.

He added: “We are tired. We sleep and wake up dreaming of a ceasefire that will end the war and preserve the lives of those remaining in Gaza,” refusing to mention his name for fear of Israeli retaliation.

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The Israeli army said that forces operating in Al-Shifa killed gunmen who were fortifying the area and found weapons.

The army said that “Israeli Air Force planes bombed several compounds used to launch anti-tank missiles and where snipers operate” in the Al-Rimal neighborhood near Al-Shifa.

He added that the forces killed 15 militants in the central Gaza Strip and a number of others in Khan Yunis, including near Al-Amal Hospital.

Israel said it killed and arrested hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in Shifa during a raid. Hamas and the medical staff deny any armed presence inside the medical facilities, and accuse Israel of killing and arresting civilians.

In the peace talks, Hamas also wants to allow hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were displaced from Gaza City and its surrounding areas to the south during the first phase of the war to return to the north.

On Thursday, the International Court of Justice unanimously ordered Israel, which South Africa accuses of committing genocide in the Gaza Strip, to take all necessary and effective measures to ensure the provision of basic food supplies to the population.

(Reporting and writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi. Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem. Editing by Nick Macfie)

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