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Netanyahu: Deal should allow Israel to resume fighting in Gaza Strip

Any Gaza ceasefire deal must allow Israel to resume fighting until its goals are achieved, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday (7), as talks on a US plan aimed at ending the nine-month war are expected to restart.

Five days after Hamas accepted a key part of the plan, two officials from the Palestinian militant group said the group was awaiting Israel’s response to its latest proposal.

Netanyahu was scheduled to hold consultations on Sunday night (7) on the next steps in negotiating the three-phase plan that was presented in May by US President Joe Biden and is being brokered by Qatar and Egypt.

The aim is to end the war and free around 120 Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

Hamas has dropped a key demand that Israel first commit to a permanent ceasefire before signing a deal. Instead, it said it would allow negotiations to achieve that goal during the first six-week phase, a Hamas source told Reuters on Saturday (6), speaking on condition of anonymity.

But Netanyahu said he insisted the deal should not prevent Israel from resuming fighting until its war aims were achieved. Those aims were defined at the start of the war as the dismantling of Hamas’s military and governance capabilities, as well as the return of hostages.

“The plan that was agreed to by Israel and that was welcomed by President Biden will allow Israel to return the hostages without infringing on the other aims of the war,” Netanyahu said.

The deal, he said, should also ban the smuggling of weapons to Hamas across the Gaza-Egypt border and should not allow thousands of armed militants to return to northern Gaza.

US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns will meet with Qatar’s prime minister and the Israeli and Egyptian intelligence chiefs on Wednesday in Doha, a source familiar with the matter said who asked not to be identified.

Burns is also expected to visit Cairo this week along with an Israeli delegation, Egypt’s Al Qahera News television reported on Sunday, citing a senior source.

A Palestinian official close to the negotiations said the proposal could lead to a framework agreement if adopted by Israel and would end the war.

“We have left our response with the mediators and are waiting to hear the occupation’s response,” one of the two Hamas officials told Reuters, asking not to be identified.

Another Palestinian official with knowledge of the cease-fire deliberations said Israel was in talks with the Qataris and that a response was expected within days.

Protests in Israel

In Israel, protesters took to the streets across the country to pressure the government to agree to a Gaza ceasefire deal that would bring back hostages still held in Gaza.

They blocked rush-hour traffic at major intersections across the country, picketed politicians’ homes and briefly set tires on fire on the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway before police cleared the way.

In Gaza, Palestinian health officials said at least 15 people were killed in Israeli strikes.

Among them were Ehab Al-Ghussein, the Hamas-appointed deputy labor minister whose wife and children were killed in May, and three others killed in an attack on a church-run school in western Gaza City that was housing families, Hamas media and the Civil Emergency Service said.

The Israeli military said that after taking measures to minimize the risk of civilians being harmed at the site, it attacked militants who were hiding in the school as well as a nearby facility where weapons were manufactured.

In central and northern Rafah, on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, Israeli tanks have deepened their attacks. Health officials said they had recovered three bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in the eastern part of the city.

The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, an allied militant group, said fighters attacked Israeli forces in several locations in the Gaza Strip with anti-tank rockets and mortars.

The Israeli military said its forces killed 30 gunmen in Rafah over the past day and that one of its soldiers was killed in combat.

In Shejaia, an eastern suburb of Gaza City, the military said its forces killed several gunmen and located weapons and explosives. It released drone video showing gunmen, some appearing wounded or dead, in a house.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the video.

The conflict was triggered on October 7 when fighters led by Hamas, which controlled Gaza, attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostages, according to Israeli figures.

More than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military assault, according to Gaza health officials, and the coastal enclave has been largely reduced to rubble.

Gaza’s health ministry does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, but officials say most of those killed during the war have been civilians. Israel has lost 324 soldiers in Gaza and says at least a third of the Palestinians killed are combatants.

Source: CNN Brasil

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