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18 Mar, 2024 15:13

Israel wants new deal from Hamas – media

The country’s top spy is en route to Qatar for ceasefire talks with the militants
Israel wants new deal from Hamas – media

Mossad chief David Barnea is traveling to Qatar to continue ceasefire negotiations with Hamas, but will not accept a deal proposed last week by the Palestinian militants, Israel’s i24 News reported on Monday.

Barnea, who heads the Israeli intelligence agency, will seek to renegotiate the “bad” deal put forward by Hamas, i24 reported, citing government sources. These same sources stressed that a new agreement is unlikely to be reached in Doha, with Hebrew news site Ynet quoting other government sources as saying that Barnea’s team had requested “a significant amount of time” to draft a new arrangement.

Hamas announced on Friday that it had presented its ceasefire “vision” to Qatari and Egyptian mediators. Reuters later revealed details of the Hamas proposal, which it said envisages a two-stage road-map toward ending the fighting.

Hostilities would be paused during the first stage to allow the militants to release Israeli women, children, elderly, and sick hostages, in exchange for Israel freeing between 700 and 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from its jails, the news agency reported. With the exchange completed, a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal and permanent ceasefire would be agreed, after which all detainees from both sides would be released in the second stage of the plan.

In a social media post later on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office described Hamas’ demands as “unrealistic.” Netanyahu has maintained for months that Hamas must be completely “eliminated” and its members prevented from having any say in governing post-conflict Gaza.

Netanyahu’s office also said on Friday that he had approved plans to attack the city of Rafah in southern Gaza. With more than a million Palestinians driven into Rafah by Israeli attacks on other parts of the enclave, an assault on the city “could lead to a slaughter” of civilians, the UN has warned

Israel has been waging a relentless air and ground campaign against Gaza for more than five months, following Hamas’ surprise attack on the Jewish state on October 7, which saw 1,100 people killed and 250 taken hostage. Israeli forces have since killed nearly 32,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, according to the latest figures from the Gaza Health Ministry.