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Hamas delegation arrives in Egypt to resume Gaza ceasefire negotiations | World

One of two Palestinians walks between rubble in the town of Beit Lahia in the north of the Gaza Strip Photo: AFP Palestinians walk between rubble in the town of Beit Lahia in the north of the Gaza Strip Photo: AFP

Under the pressure of hunger that threatens the population of the Palestinian territory, negotiations for a ceasefire in the fighting in the Gaza Strip will take place this Sunday after almost five months of conflict between Israel and Hamas (3).

A Hamas delegation led by deputy chief Khalil AlHayya traveled to Cairo, the Egyptian capital, in late January to deliver an official response to the proposal formulated by mediating countries and Israeli negotiators.

An American official assured that a ceasefire agreement was “on the table” and that “the ball is in Hamas’s court.” Israel has not confirmed its approval of this plan.

Since the first attack, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has been ongoing for more than five months.

More than a hundred people die while distributing humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip

Following the incident, several countries sent humanitarian aid packages by air as access to the Palestinian territories, which have been surrounded by Israel since October 9, was difficult.

Countries providing assistance included Jordan, with support from France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and Egypt, with support from the United Arab Emirates.

The NGO International Rescue Committee warned that delivering aid by air “cannot and should not replace humanitarian access.”

Hisham Abu Eid, a 28yearold resident of Gaza's Zeitun district, said he received bags of flour on Thursday (29). “But that's not enough. Everyone is hungry. Aid is scarce and inadequate,” he said.

According to the Palestinian territory's Ministry of Health, the Israeli army continued to bombard the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours, killing at least 92 people.

The ministry later reported that 11 people were killed and another 50 injured in Israeli shelling of a refugee camp near a hospital in Rafah, southern Gaza.

A weeklong ceasefire in November allowed the exchange of around 100 hostages for 240 Palestinian prisoners, and Israel estimates that around 130 people remain in captivity, 30 of whom are believed to have died.

In response, Israel launched an air and ground operation to “eliminate” Hamas, a move it, along with the United States and the EU, classifies as a “terrorist” organization.

According to AFP correspondents, Israel has continued its bombings in the Gaza Strip in recent hours, mainly in Khan Yunis and Rafah in the south of the territory, with Hamas saying 30,320 people have already been killed.

Since the start of the conflict, limited humanitarian aid has flowed by land through Rafah because it is subject to the approval of Israel, which has imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2007 and declared a total siege on October 9.

According to the United Nations, 2.2 million of the territory's 2.4 million residents are at risk of hunger. According to Hamas health officials, 13 children have died in recent days from “malnutrition and dehydration.”

The US Central Command (CentCom) in the region reported that three C130 military cargo planes “dropped more than 38,000 rations along the coast of the Gaza Strip.”

EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said it was unacceptable that Israeli soldiers shot civilians trying to get food and called for an “impartial international investigation” into the tragedy.

2 of 2 children in a destroyed car in Rafah, Gaza Photo: AFP Children in a destroyed car in Rafah, Gaza Photo: AFP

A UN team visited Gaza's AlShifa Hospital on Thursday, where dozens of people injured in the incident were admitted. The place was “shot in large numbers,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN chief António Guterres.

The international community called for an investigation into the matter and an immediate ceasefire.

Thousands of people gathered in Jerusalem after a fourday march from the Gaza Strip border to pressure the Israeli government to speed up the release of hostages held by Hamas.

“You have to make this deal,” said Eyal Kalderon, cousin of Ofer Kalderon, one of the hostages in Gaza. “I don’t know if they’ll get another chance, now or never.”