Stabroek News Sunday

Gaza ceasefire talks could soon resume but Israel-Hamas war rages on

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CAIRO, (Reuters) - Prospects for a resumption of mediated Gaza ceasefire talks grew yesterday although Israel carried out new attacks in which Palestinia­n medics said more than 40 people were killed.

An official with knowledge of the matter said a decision had been taken to resume the talks next week after the chief of Israel's Mossad intelligen­ce agency met the head of the CIA and the prime minister of Qatar.

The source, who declined to be identified by name or nationalit­y, said it had been decided that "in the coming week negotiatio­ns will open based on new proposals led by the mediators, Egypt and Qatar and with active U.S. involvemen­t."

A Hamas official later denied Israeli media reports that the talks would resume in Cairo on Tuesday, telling Reuters: "There is no date".

After more than seven months of war in Gaza, the mediators have struggled to secure a breakthrou­gh, with Israel seeking the release of hostages held by Hamas and Hamas seeking an end to the war and a release of Palestinia­n prisoners in Israel.

Israel pressed on with its offensive in Gaza to eliminate the Palestinia­n Islamist militant group Hamas after the top United Nations court ordered Israel on Friday to stop attacking the southern city of Gaza.

Israel says it wants to root out Hamas fighters holed up in Rafah and rescue hostages it says are being held in the area, but its assault has worsened the plight of civilians and caused an internatio­nal outcry.

In northern Gaza, where the Israeli military says it is trying to prevent Hamas from reestablis­hing its hold, Palestinia­n medical workers reported new Israeli airstrikes that they said killed at least 17 people.

Abu Mohammad said he had been taking shelter with his family at a school in Gaza City's Saftawi suburb with other families, when an Israeli missile struck a yard and outside a classroom where women were preparing bread.

"We were sitting peacefully, then there was boom, a missile from a controlled drone, or a regular drone, but it did massive damage," he told Reuters. He said several people were killed, adding: "Even schools are not safe anymore."

The Israeli military said it was looking into the report. Palestinia­ns medics said 45 Palestinia­ns had been killed in the past day across Gaza. They do not distinguis­h between civilian and militant casualties.

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