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Israel ‘more or less’ ready to talk truce with Hamas: Report

A truce proposal is reportedly ready to put to Hamas.

A truce proposal is reportedly ready to put to Hamas. Photo: Getty

After weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations involving third-party mediators those close to the talks now say Israel has essentially endorsed the framework for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage-release deal.

A day before talks to reach an agreement were to resume in Egypt, it is now up to Hamas to agree to it, .

International mediators have been working for weeks to broker a deal to pause the fighting before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins around March 10.

A deal would likely allow aid to reach hundreds of thousands of desperate Palestinians in northern Gaza who aid officials worry are under threat of famine.

Israeli has “more or less accepted” the proposal, informed sources say, which includes a six-week ceasefire as well as the release by Hamas of the sick, the wounded, the elderly and women, said the official on Saturday.

“Right now, the ball is in the court of Hamas and we are continuing to push this as hard as we possibly can,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House to brief reporters.

Officials from Israel and Hamas did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A senior Egyptian official said mediators Egypt and Qatar are expected to receive a response from Hamas during the Cairo talks scheduled to start on Sunday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not publicly authorised to discuss the sensitive talks.

White House meeting

Separately, in Washington, US Vice-President Kamala Harris will meet with Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz at the White House on Monday.

The talks come amid increasing criticism over the desperation of hundreds of thousands struggling to survive in northern Gaza, which has borne the brunt of the conflict that began when the Hamas militant group attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing 1200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing around 250 hostages.

United States military planes began the first airdrops of thousands of meals into Gaza, and the militaries of Jordan and Egypt said they also conducted airdrops.

Residents in northern Gaza are searching rubble and garbage for anything to feed their children, who barely eat one meal a day.

Many families have begun mixing animal and bird food with grain to bake bread. International aid officials say they have encountered catastrophic hunger.

At least 10 children have starved to death, according to hospital records in Gaza, the World Health Organisation said.

Misery amid the rubble

Gaza’s Health Ministry said the Palestinian death toll from the war has climbed to 30,320. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures, but says women and children make up around two-thirds of those killed.

Israel’s air, sea and ground offensive has reduced much of densely populated northern Gaza to rubble. The military told Palestinians to move south, but as many as 300,000 people are believed to have remained north.

About one in six children under two in the north suffer from acute malnutrition and wasting, “the worst level of child malnutrition anywhere in the world,” Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the World Food Program, said this week.

“If nothing changes, a famine is imminent in northern Gaza.”

-AAP

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