A senior Hamas official said Friday the group will respond “very soon” to a proposal that includes extended pauses in Gaza fighting and phased exchanges of Hamas-held hostages for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
Hamas and other militants in Gaza are holding dozens of hostages, after having abducted about 250 during their deadly Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and sparked Israel’s blistering offensive on the enclave. More than 100 hostages were released during a one-week truce in November, in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Over 27,000 people have been killed and 66,000 wounded by Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza, the territory’s Health Ministry said Thursday. The Health Ministry does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths, but says most of those killed were women and children.
Israel’s war in Gaza threatens to spill over into neighboring countries, despite persistent efforts by top officials around the globe to tamp down regional tensions.
— Analysis shows destruction and a possible buffer zone along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel.
— Half of U.S. adults say Israel has gone too far in its war in Gaza, AP-NORC poll shows.
— A U.S. company says hostage-taking by gunmen at its factory in Turkey in Gaza protest has been resolved.
— Biden sanctions Israeli settlers accused of attacking Palestinians and peace activists in West Bank.
— Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
Here’s the latest:
BEIRUT — A senior Hamas official says the group will respond “very soon” to a proposal that includes extended pauses in Gaza fighting and phased exchanges of Hamas-held hostages for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
The official told The Associated Press on Friday a lasting cease-fire is the most important component for Hamas, and that everything else can be negotiated.
The multi-stage proposal was drafted several days ago by senior officials from the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt, and is awaiting a Hamas response. In Cairo, a senior Egyptian official with direct knowledge of the contacts said Hamas has not submitted a formal response but that it has sent positive signals.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the indirect talks are still ongoing.
The proposal being presented to Hamas includes a significant increase in aid trucks entering Gaza and allowing displaced residents to gradually return to their homes in the north, but does not explicitly call for a permanent cease-fire. Israel has said it would not agree to end the war as a condition for hostage releases.
Hamas and other militants in Gaza continue to hold dozens of hostages, after abducting about 250 during their deadly Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel. More than 100 were released during a one-week truce in November, in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed.
BEIRUT — An Israeli airstrike on a southern suburb of Damascus early Friday caused material damage, state media reported, while an opposition war monitor said two Iran-backed fighters were killed.
There was no immediate comment from Israel.
State news agency SANA quoted an army statement as saying that Israeli warplanes fired the missiles while flying over Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. It gave no further details other than saying that Syrian air defenses shot down several missiles.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrike killed two Iranian-backed militants in a farm south of Damascus.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of war-torn Syria in recent years. Israel rarely acknowledges its actions in Syria, but it has said that it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.