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Egypt sends delegation to Israel to broker ceasefire in Gaza

Smoke rises to the sky after an explosion in the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, Thursday, April 25, 2024.
Smoke rises to the sky after an explosion in the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, Thursday, April 25, 2024. Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Euronews with AP
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Egypt sent a high-level delegation to Israel for talks, seeking to push through a ceasefire agreement with Hamas and avert an Israeli offensive on Gaza’s town of Rafah that could ruin regional stability, officials said.

Egypt’s top intelligence official, Abbas Kamel, led the delegation and planned to discuss with Israel a “new vision” for a prolonged ceasefire in Gaza, an Egyptian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the mission freely.

Friday’s talks focused on an agreement for the release of hostages held by Hamas in exchange for the return of a significant number of displaced Palestinians to their homes in northern Gaza “with minimum restrictions,” the Egyptian official said.

The official said mediators are working on a compromise that will answer most of both parties’ main demands. 

Hamas has said it will not back down from its demands for a permanent ceasefire, which include a full withdrawal of Israeli troops. Israel has rejected that plea. Tel Aviv says it will continue military operations until Hamas is defeated and that it will retain a security presence in Gaza afterwards.

Palestinians inspect the rubble of destroyed a residential building of the Abo al Hanood family after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp. April 17, 2024.
Palestinians inspect the rubble of destroyed a residential building of the Abo al Hanood family after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp. April 17, 2024.AP

Meanwhile, the Israeli military has massed dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles in southern Israel close to Rafah, in apparent preparations for an invasion.

UN investigators probe 14 Gaza aid staffers Israel had tied to Hamas' October 7 attack

UN investigators are looking into allegations against 14 of the 19 staffers from the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians, known as UNRWA, who Israel claims were involved in the Hamas October 7 attack, according to the UN's spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The UN’s internal watchdog — the Office of Internal Oversight Services — is carrying out the probe following Israel’s initial allegations in January.

One of the cases was closed due to no evidence provided by the Israeli government. Four others were suspended. 

Israel informed the UN in January that 12 employees of UNRWA had allegedly taken part in the October 7 attack on southern Israel, when Hamas and other Palestinian militants killed about 1,200 people and seized some 250 as hostages.

Dujarric said the UN later received additional allegations from Israel about seven UNRWA staffers — five in March and two in April.

UNRWA has 32,000 staff in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, including 13,000 in Gaza who provide education, health care, food and other services to several million Palestinians and their families.

The United States, its biggest donor, and more than a dozen other countries suspended contributions to UNRWA amid Israel's allegations, causing a pause in funding worth about $450 million.

A number of countries have since resumed contributions, but the US Congress has suspended any money for the agency until March 2025.

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