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Houses Destroyed in Rafah in the Southern Gaza Strip After Israeli Airstrike: Informal Talks with Hamas

Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP

Israel and Hamas have already agreed on a ceasefire and the release of hostages, but fighting has resumed since the beginning of December. Now Israel is hoping that the weapons will cease again – and according to a media report, Egypt has asked Egypt to broker a deal with the terrorist organization. In addition to the release of more hostages, such an agreement should also include a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Israel, reports the Arabic-language newspaper Al Arabi Al Jadid.

The Qatari newspaper writes, citing unspecified Egyptian sources, that the Egyptian and Israeli intelligence services were in contact over the weekend about the Gaza war. According to the report, Hamas denies any new negotiations. Bassem Naem, head of Hamas' political bureau in Gaza, told the newspaper that the group rejected any negotiations before a ceasefire came into force.

Egypt and Qatar are holding initial informal talks with Israel and Hamas to formulate a first draft of a possible agreement, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports, citing Palestinian sources. At the moment, however, there are no concrete results.

Mini-lull in fighting in the southern Gaza Strip

In turn, the US broadcaster CNN reported that the head of Israel's foreign intelligence service, David Barnea, is not flying to Qatar as initially intended to try to restart talks on an exchange of hostages from Israel and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Israel has the impression that Hamas is not receptive to such initiatives.

There is currently a four-hour "tactical" pause in fighting in a neighborhood in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. This pause for humanitarian reasons is intended to allow civilians to replenish supplies such as food and water, according to Israel's Cogat Authority, which is responsible for contacts with the Palestinians.

The current war comes after Hamas' invasion of Israel on October 7. At the end of November, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire mediated by Egypt and Qatar. This lasted a total of one week. During the lull in the fighting, 105 hostages abducted to the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other groups were released, in exchange for Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners from its prisons.