A US official says there is a deal on the

A US official says “there is a deal on the table” for a planned ceasefire and hostage release agreement with Hamas

Israel has essentially approved the framework of a proposed ceasefire and hostage release deal for Gaza and it is now up to Hamas to agree to it, a senior US government official said on Saturday, a day before talks on a deal were due to resume Egypt.

A U.S. official told CBS News that “an agreement for a six-week ceasefire is on the table” that includes the release of Hamas hostages deemed at risk, including the sick, wounded, the elderly and women.

“It is important that we see a ceasefire in Gaza, and the path to a ceasefire, now literally at this hour, is straightforward. … There is a framework agreement. The Israelis more or less accepted it. And there will be one.” “From today, a six-week ceasefire is in effect in Gaza. If Hamas agrees to release,” the official said.

Israeli and Hamas officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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

International mediators have been working for weeks to broker a deal to halt the fighting before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins around March 10. A deal would also likely allow aid to reach hundreds of thousands of desperate Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip, who aid groups worry are at risk of famine.

At the end of November, Israel and Hamas held a week-long ceasefire. The seven-day ceasefire led to the release of about 100 hostages – mostly women, children and foreigners – in exchange for about 240 Palestinians detained by Israel, as well as a brief cessation of fighting.

The talks come amid growing criticism of the desperation of hundreds of thousands struggling to survive in northern Gaza and bearing the brunt of the conflict that began when the militant group Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, killed. and the capture of around 250 hostages.

Residents in the northern Gaza Strip say they are sifting through rubble and garbage for food for their children, who barely eat a meal a day. Many families have started mixing animal and bird food with grains to make bread. International aid agency officials say they have faced catastrophic famine. According to the World Health Organization, at least 10 children have starved to death in Gaza, according to hospital records.

About one in six children under two years old in the north suffers from acute malnutrition and wasting, “the worst levels of child malnutrition in the world,” Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the World Food Program, said this week. “If nothing changes, there is a risk of famine in the north of the Gaza Strip.”

People overwhelmed trucks delivering food aid and grabbed what they could, Skau said, forcing the WFP to stop deliveries to the north.

“We are dying of hunger,” said Soad Abu Hussein, a widow and mother of five who is taking refuge in a school in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

At least 115 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more injured on Thursday as they fought for aid, the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip said.

Witnesses and medics said Israeli forces opened fire. Israel says many of the dead were trampled in a chaotic crush for food aid and that its troops fired warning shots after the crowd advanced threateningly on them. The European Union's diplomatic service said on Saturday that many of the dozens of Palestinians killed or wounded in the chaos were hit by Israeli army fire and called for an international investigation.

On Friday, President Biden announced that U.S. forces would begin airdropping food into Gaza. The first airdrop, carried out jointly with the Jordanian military, took place on Saturday morning. The armed forces of Jordan and Egypt said they also carried out airdrops.

Gaza's health ministry said the number of Palestinian war deaths rose to 30,320. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its figures, but says about two-thirds of those killed were women and children.

Israel and Hamas at war

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