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No Gaza ceasefire on the horizon as negotiations continue

Israeli soldiers are seen near the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel, 13 June 2024
Israeli soldiers are seen near the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel, 13 June 2024 Copyright AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg
Copyright AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg
By Euronews with AP
Published on Updated
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A proposed ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas has been raising hopes that eight months of fighting could soon come to an end.

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As talks of a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas loom in the air, Washington does not expect an agreement in the near future due to the fact that a globally supported US-backed proposal has not been fully embraced by either side.

But speaking at the G7 summit in Italy, where current world conflicts are the main topic, US President Joe Biden told reports that he "hadn't lost hope".

As Israeli bombing continued in the Gaza strip, this week Hamas proposed modifications to a US-backed peace proposal aimed at ensuring a permanent cease-fire and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

Biden's proposal includes these provisions, but Hamas has expressed scepticism about Israel's commitment to implementing them.

Earlier on Thursday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan pushed back against assertions that Israel isn’t fully committed to the cease-fire plan. He said the goal is “to figure out how we work to bridge the remaining gaps and get to a deal.”

And on the Israel-Lebanon border, Hezbollah militants launched rockets and explosive drones against Israeli military posts for a second day in retaliation for the killing of a senior commander.

The escalation comes as some Israeli leaders have threatened all-out war to silence Hezbollah’s rocket fire and as the militant group seeks to pressure Israel during the cease-fire negotiations in support of its ally Hamas.

Many losing hope

With the war displacing 80% of Gaza’s population, making much of the urban landscape uninhabitable, and sparking widespread hunger, Palestinians are aching for an end to the hostilities.

“We want a solution. We want to return to our homes. We are tired of this life,” said Salama Abu al-Qumbuz, a displaced person sheltering in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah.

The fighting, sparked by Hamas’ cross-border attack on 7 October that killed 1,200 people in Israel, has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians. Most Palestinians in Gaza have lost at least one relative. Some have lost dozens.

Some have lost hope in the negotiations.

“They negotiated a lot, to no avail,” said Etaf Abdel Bari, who was also sheltering in Deir al-Balah. “We are not a toy in their hands.”

A woman holds posters of Kfir and Ariel Bibas, who are in Hamas captivity with their parents in the Gaza Strip, as students march towards The Knesset, Israel's parliament.
A woman holds posters of Kfir and Ariel Bibas, who are in Hamas captivity with their parents in the Gaza Strip, as students march towards The Knesset, Israel's parliament.Mahmoud Illean/Copyright 2024 The AP All rights reserved

In Israel, those most desperate for a deal are the families of the hostages held by Hamas and other militant groups.

The Hamas-led militants took some 250 people hostage in their attack, according to Israeli authorities, and after a cease-fire deal in November freed about 100.

Around 80 people are still captive, along with the remains of about 40 others.

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The families and thousands of their supporters gather weekly to demonstrate in support of a deal, arguing that negotiations are the only way to free significant numbers of hostages. And polls show the Israeli public views freeing them through a deal as a priority.

But among the families of hostages, some oppose a deal that would leave Hamas intact.

Eitan Zeliger is the director of the Tikva Forum, which he says represents about 30 hostage families who oppose freeing their loved ones through a deal that ends the war. Instead, they insist that Israel ramp up military pressure on Hamas to weaken its negotiating position.

“It is long and hard and hell for many hostage families,” he said. “But the families we are in touch with understand that there is no way to return the hostages without war.”

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