Ceasefire proposal gets 'generally positive' response from Hamas - Qatar PM

Smoke rises following Israeli bombardments in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024.
Smoke rises following Israeli bombardments in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. Copyright Mohammed Dahman/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews
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But Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said the Palestinian militant group had “comments.”

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The Israeli military has confirmed that the 31 hostages held captive by Hamas are no longer alive.

"We have notified thirty-one families that their loved ones who are hostages are no longer alive and we have confirmed their deaths," IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

The same day, Qatar’s prime minister said Hamas had reacted positively to the latest plan for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages. 

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani's comments came after a meeting with top US diplomat Antony Blinken, who was making his latest visit to the Middle East.

The response of the Palestinian militant group was “generally positive", he said. 

In a statement released on Tuesday, Hamas said it responded to the truce proposal "in a positive spirit" but still wants a full ceasefire and an end to the offensive.

Qatar, which has long mediated with Hamas, has been working with the US and Egypt to broker a ceasefire that would involve a prolonged halt in fighting and the release of the over 100 hostages still held in Gaza.  

The Qatari PM did not provide any details on Hamas' response but said the group had “comments.” 

Blinken confirmed officials had received Hamas' response and said he would brief Israel's leaders when he visits the country on Wednesday.

The US Secretary of State also met with Egyptian officials earlier in the day and was in Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Concerns have grown in Egypt about Israel's stated intentions to assault areas of Gaza near the Egyptian border that are crammed with displaced Palestinians.

In December, the head of the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) accused Israel of working to orchestrate the mass expulsion of Gazans into Egypt. 

Israel said this claim was "simply not true".

More than half of Gaza's 2.3 million people have sought refuge in the Rafah border town, amid Israel's devastating airstrikes and military operation. 

They are living in increasingly dire conditions, with many facing famine. 

Blinken, who met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo, has said repeatedly that Palestinians must not be forced out of Gaza.

The Palestinian death toll from nearly four months of war has reached 27,585, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, with 107 bodies brought to hospitals over the past day. 

The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count but says most of the dead have been women and children.

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Vast swathes of the Palestinian enclave have been leveled and the war has pushed a quarter of its residents to starvation.

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