update deskIsrael at War

Gaza truce talks collapse without breakthrough

Negotiations had carried without Israel after Hamas refused to supply a list of living abductees.

Israeli forces operating in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 10, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Israeli forces operating in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 10, 2024. Credit: IDF.

Ceasefire talks in Cairo between Hamas and mediators, including the U.S. and Qatar, fell apart on Tuesday.

Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told Reuters that it had presented its proposal for a ceasefire agreement during two days of talks and was waiting for a response from the Israelis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “doesn’t want to reach an agreement and the ball now is in the Americans’ court,” Naim said, indicating that he expected the U.S. to push Israel to make a deal.

However, Washington signaled that it was Hamas’s move with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday calling on the terrorist group to accept the terms on the table, in which all the hostages would be released in exchange for an immediate six-week ceasefire and a surge of humanitarian assistance across the Gaza Strip.

 She thanked Israel for its “constructive approach.”

The Cairo talks had carried on despite Israel’s non-participation after Jerusalem refused to send a delegation unless Hamas supplied a list of living abductees.

Hamas claims that it has no idea where the hostages are, and whether they are dead or alive.

“Practically it is impossible to know who is still alive because of the Israeli bombardment and blockage. They are in different areas with different groups,” Naim told the BBC.

Israel estimates that 134 hostages remain in Gaza of whom 32 are dead. More than 250 people were kidnapped during the Hamas-led assault on the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed and thousands more wounded.

The breakdown in talks may be the last obstacle holding Israel back from its planned military operation in Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu has for weeks been telegraphing the attack. Addressing the nation on Feb. 17, the premier said, “Israel will fight until we achieve total victory. And indeed, this includes action in Rafah.”

On Feb. 11, he told ABC News, “Victory is within reach. We’re going to do it. We’re going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion, but we’re going to do it.”

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