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Israel denies plan for Gaza ceasefire to allow aid to reach population

Israeli authorities say no ceasefire has been implemented in southern Gaza even though security sources in Egypt say a deal has been reached to allow foreigners out of the besieged Palestinian enclave and aid to be brought in.

The bombardment of Hamas-ruled Gaza continued overnight, with residents saying it was the heaviest pounding yet in nine days of conflict.

As a humanitarian crisis gripped Gaza, two Egyptian security sources said Israel had agreed to halt its bombardment of southern Gaza.

The Egyptian-controlled Rafah border crossing was expected to reopen to allow foreign passport holders to leave, they said.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office denied the development.

“There is currently no truce and humanitarian aid in Gaza in exchange for getting foreigners out,” it said in a statement.

The Israeli military and the US embassy in Israel had no comment, while officials from Hamas, which has fired rockets at Israel since its assault on civilians there just over a week ago, did not confirm any ceasefire.

The situation remained unclear at the Rafah crossing, the only one not controlled by Israel which has imposed a full blockade on Gaza, where food is running short.

Diplomatic efforts have been intensifying to get aid into the enclave, which has been under intense Israeli bombing since the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants that killed 1300 people.

Israel is preparing a ground invasion to destroy Hamas.

Authorities in Gaza said at least 2750 people had so far been killed by the Israeli strikes, a quarter of them children, and nearly 10,000 wounded. Another 1000 people were missing and believed to be under rubble.

Hundreds of tonnes of aid from several countries have been held up in Egypt for days pending a deal for its safe delivery to Gaza and the evacuation of some foreign passport holders through the Rafah crossing.

Egypt has said bombardment had rendered the crossing inoperable.

The United States has told its citizens in Gaza to get close to the crossing so they can move out.

The US government estimates the number of dual-citizen Palestinian-Americans in Gaza at 500 to 600 among the enclave’s population of 2.3 million, and Washington hopes to get many of its nationals out of harm’s way.

-Reuters

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