Israeli Forces, Hamas Clash Throughout Gaza as Ceasefire Talks Resumes

Sun Feb 25 2024
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GAZA: Israeli troops and Palestinian resistance group fighters clashed throughout the Gaza Strip over the weekend, both sides said on Sunday, as mediators sought common ground for a possible ceasefire that would release hostages held by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

The clashes occurred amid renewed talks mediated by various countries aimed at reaching a resolution and securing the release of hostages.

Reports from both sides indicated ongoing fighting, with Israeli forces shelling several areas of the besieged Palestinian enclave and deploying tanks into Beit Lahiya while soldiers launched a ground offensive in the Zeitoun sector of Gaza City. The violence mostly unfolded in the northern areas, which had been early targets of the Israeli offensive.

According to medics, at least 86 Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes since Saturday, while Israel’s military confirmed the deaths of two soldiers in southern Gaza. Additionally, Israeli forces claimed to have killed several Palestinians in Zeitoun and other locations.

Ceasefire Talks Between Israel and Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his war cabinet for a briefing after intelligence chiefs met with Qatari, Egyptian, and US mediators in Paris to discuss the possibility of a second Gaza ceasefire. However, prospects for a truce remained uncertain as Israel expressed intentions to expand its operations to eliminate the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, while the factions stood firm on their demands.

Previous ceasefire agreements have led to the release of hostages, but Hamas insists on a permanent end to the conflict as a precondition for any deal. Israeli media speculated about a potential framework for the release of remaining hostages over a six-week truce during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, though no formal confirmation was provided.

Palestinian officials emphasized their stance on Israel halting its offensive and withdrawing forces as part of any agreement. Meanwhile, Netanyahu signaled plans for military action in Rafah, one of the last towns where millions of Palestinians are sheltering Israeli bombardment.

So far, almost 30,000 Palestinians have reportedly been killed since Israel launched a relentless bombardment campaign in Gaza on October 7.

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