As tensions over the conflict grow, Israeli authorities told AFP that their spy chief was traveling to Cairo on Tuesday to discuss a proposed Gaza truce with their counterparts in Egypt and the US.
Due to the sensitivity of the negotiations, Israeli sources speaking on condition of anonymity indicated that Mossad director David Barnea will meet with CIA head William Burns.
The prime minister of Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who also acts as the nation’s chief diplomat and has mediated past ceasefires in Gaza, will join them in the Egyptian capital.
Following Israel’s rejection of Hamas’ initial answer to a proposed truce last week, Burns is due in Cairo for talks on a proposal for a truce mediated by Qatar, according to people familiar with the developments in Washington.
Israel’s mission to destroy Hamas will continue, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as Israel sends troops into Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where 1.4 million people have sought safety.
Without a “credible plan” for the safety of the civilians in Rafah, the US “does not support a full-scale military operation,” said to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller on Monday.
Miller made these comments just hours after Israeli soldiers, under the direction of the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry, freed two captives who had been held captive in Gaza. The operation was followed by intense airstrikes that resulted in the deaths of about 100 Palestinians.
A number of hostages have reportedly been murdered in recent Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, according to Hamas, a claim that AFP is unable to independently confirm.
The battle began on October 7, when Hamas launched their onslaught on southern Israel, during which militants captured about 250 people. About 130 people are still in Gaza after a truce in November, 29 of them are thought to be dead, according to Israeli officials.
An AFP count based on official numbers indicates that 1,160 persons in Israel lost their lives as a result of the Hamas attack, the majority of them were civilians.
The health ministry reports that Israel’s ceaseless shelling and ground assault in Gaza have killed at least 28,340 individuals, the majority of them women and children.