Middle East crisis live: Hamas says delegation heading to Cairo for ceasefire talks with ‘positive spirit’

From 45m ago

Hamas sends delegation to Cairo to resume Gaza ceasefire talks

Hamas said on Friday it was sending a delegation to Cairo to discuss a deal for a truce and the release of hostages in Gaza, hours after US CIA director William Burns arrived in the Egyptian capital, Reuters reports.

Hamas and CIA officials will meet Egyptian mediators on Saturday, an Egyptian security source said, though it was unclear whether they would meet separately or together.

Hamas said its delegates were travelling to Cairo in a “positive spirit” after studying the latest proposal for a truce agreement.

“We are determined to secure an agreement in a way that fulfils Palestinians’ demands,” the Palestinian militant group said in a statement.

A US official said they believed there had been some progress in talks but was still waiting to hear more.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Hamas was the only hold up to a Gaza ceasefire as the militants prepared to send a delegation back to Cairo on Saturday for talks.

“We wait to see whether, in effect, they can take yes for an answer on the ceasefire and release of hostages,” Blinken said late Friday.

“The reality in this moment is the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas.”

Ceasefire talks have continued for months without a decisive breakthrough. Israel has said it is determined to eliminate Hamas, while Hamas says it wants a permanent ceasefire and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Egypt made a renewed push to revive negotiations late last month. Cairo is alarmed by the prospect of an Israeli ground operation against Hamas in Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than one million people have taken shelter near the border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Egyptian sources say both sides have made some concessions recently, leading to progress in the talks, though Israel has continued to say an operation in Rafah is imminent.

<gu-island name="KeyEventsCarousel" priority="feature" deferuntil="visible" props="{"keyEvents":[{"id":"6635a73a8f08cb3df5819c8f","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

An Israeli military incursion into Gaza’s southern city of Rafah could lead to a “bloodbath”, the World Health Organization warned Friday, announcing contingency plans, AFP reports.

","elementId":"018c0d85-a14c-41e3-9ca5-8aa6638182ec"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned of possible dire implications for the 1.2 million people sheltering in Rafah.

","elementId":"3b4afdfe-c344-4b70-a108-e806033b3534"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

“WHO is deeply concerned that a full-scale military operation in Rafah, Gaza, could lead to a bloodbath, and further weaken an already broken health system,” the director general said on X, formerly Twitter.

","elementId":"8fc43e4c-376a-4cda-8c30-b20c142c261d"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

In a statement, the WHO announced contingency efforts, but warned “the broken health system would not be able to cope with a surge in casualties and deaths that a Rafah incursion would cause”.

","elementId":"b40fc71d-908c-462c-b7e3-3b39bfd74e62"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

According to the WHO, most of the besieged territory’s health facilities have been damaged or destroyed amid heavy Israeli bombardment.

","elementId":"a74f73a7-62d3-4e04-9585-ab2bd7d50bfa"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Only 12 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals and 22 of its 88 primary health facilities are “partially functional”, the UN health agency said.

","elementId":"2622d64b-fd83-4379-9913-6fcbe939ff2e"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

“As part of contingency efforts, WHO and partners are urgently working to restore and resuscitate health services,” the statement said.

","elementId":"d7094906-0ba8-48e5-8275-2810a53f821e"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

It added that Rafah’s three currently operational hospitals would become unreachable “when hostilities intensify in their vicinity”.

","elementId":"2cf19322-e196-473e-a252-822044b11ebd"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1714807269000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"08.21 BST","blockLastUpdated":1714809098000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"08.51 BST","blockFirstPublished":1714809098000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"08.51 BST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"08.51","title":"Rafah assault ‘could lead to a bloodbath’, WHO chief warns","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Sat 4 May 2024 08.55 BST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Sat 4 May 2024 08.21 BST"},{"id":"66357ee18f08cb3df5819bf4","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

A top UN official said Friday that hard-hit northern Gaza was now in “full-blown famine” after more than six months of war between Israel and Hamas and severe Israeli restrictions on food deliveries to the Palestinian territory, the Associated Press reports.

Cindy McCain, the American director of the UN World Food Program, became the most prominent international official so far to declare that trapped civilians in the most cut-off part of Gaza had gone over the brink into famine.

","elementId":"cca8a31f-8d9f-4a41-bbc5-0bdf4934b8bf"},{"displayCredit":true,"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.ImageBlockElement","role":"inline","media":{"allImages":[{"index":0,"fields":{"height":"4500","width":"7500"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/7500.jpg"},{"index":1,"fields":{"isMaster":"true","height":"4500","width":"7500"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg"},{"index":2,"fields":{"height":"1200","width":"2000"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/2000.jpg"},{"index":3,"fields":{"height":"600","width":"1000"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/1000.jpg"},{"index":4,"fields":{"height":"300","width":"500"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/500.jpg"},{"index":5,"fields":{"height":"84","width":"140"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/140.jpg"}]},"elementId":"183f8ab0-c311-4367-9614-ccbe40eeb1d2","imageSources":[{"weighting":"inline","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=41fedb0917771d1968ca0081015f7cd6","width":620},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=620&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=0e61e02bf4a8180a43458f7610576ed8","width":1240},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=605&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=6b001268c346fec9583c93b7cae12d7a","width":605},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=605&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=54d11fe3b7df08c7260f404ab1594831","width":1210},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=445&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=b51180484dabf2b2bbc4f56bd715ecb9","width":445},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=445&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=daa85d451ab759b4d53c4715de6792c4","width":890}]},{"weighting":"thumbnail","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=140&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=09388a41e85d689594a3779d424b3e39","width":140},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=140&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=f77853a46fab4c1ccdaaf86be7d651db","width":280},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=120&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=c7a01f16de3fec2228e387cc41df2b20","width":120},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=120&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=274ed0f8d6fca232c8e9898410c94fd2","width":240}]},{"weighting":"supporting","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=380&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=f2dedc658bff0c633dd9bb53ae92feab","width":380},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=380&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=870ad53ebe746811e681d226bd954e44","width":760},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=f88cbaa5b5a58dee600077fe59b97152","width":300},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=300&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=a91cfde4ecaba413303ae1b03ccde3ea","width":600},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=41fedb0917771d1968ca0081015f7cd6","width":620},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=620&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=0e61e02bf4a8180a43458f7610576ed8","width":1240},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=605&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=6b001268c346fec9583c93b7cae12d7a","width":605},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=605&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=54d11fe3b7df08c7260f404ab1594831","width":1210},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=445&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=b51180484dabf2b2bbc4f56bd715ecb9","width":445},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=445&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=daa85d451ab759b4d53c4715de6792c4","width":890}]},{"weighting":"showcase","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=860&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=40c89c091691918f157194bb470098a0","width":860},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=860&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=31a8806acbbf2a3bf7179b4df4bb5fcc","width":1720},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=780&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=24eb7d22fe2c430762574cd5cd2b8d9d","width":780},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=780&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=d30b58630869fc5e550db24cd4c77417","width":1560},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=41fedb0917771d1968ca0081015f7cd6","width":620},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=620&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=0e61e02bf4a8180a43458f7610576ed8","width":1240},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=605&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=6b001268c346fec9583c93b7cae12d7a","width":605},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=605&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=54d11fe3b7df08c7260f404ab1594831","width":1210},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=445&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=b51180484dabf2b2bbc4f56bd715ecb9","width":445},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=445&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=daa85d451ab759b4d53c4715de6792c4","width":890}]},{"weighting":"halfwidth","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=41fedb0917771d1968ca0081015f7cd6","width":620},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=620&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=0e61e02bf4a8180a43458f7610576ed8","width":1240},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=605&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=6b001268c346fec9583c93b7cae12d7a","width":605},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=605&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=54d11fe3b7df08c7260f404ab1594831","width":1210},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=445&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=b51180484dabf2b2bbc4f56bd715ecb9","width":445},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=445&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=daa85d451ab759b4d53c4715de6792c4","width":890}]},{"weighting":"immersive","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=1900&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=d0e24e8757e735695c14966ce5903f48","width":1900},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=1900&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=9553ed98f5e99eb3ce41f7f7409dfb80","width":3800},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=1300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=3f8329ab335f492ea3ecd989cd0de380","width":1300},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=1300&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=6a565cf43ca9f129305fc186570e949a","width":2600},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=1140&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=7eb23a87897b3f6de446495ef4630fef","width":1140},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=1140&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=27b08d26a5d3f3571d7c956db7f9a4a1","width":2280},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=980&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=772afaafbe92a4d692183f9ce32a2ef1","width":980},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=980&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=ad2fabe32edf9730ab31f32203649ae3","width":1960},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=740&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=200b480ece9f7f0b591e8cd76a916c59","width":740},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=740&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=5b3cd0cc1c7a3ab36d81a3caa82f8442","width":1480},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=660&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=a4b0d9c9893d4d70c94f096d8c7bc362","width":660},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=660&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=718443c3899220f995c9c1016c7d8387","width":1320},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=480&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=7e133e8d02d9eb60348d496ee907801f","width":480},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/9cc5fcd7546aa0232c949d9904477086f07a2014/0_352_7500_4500/master/7500.jpg?width=480&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=c65bf3143d8c41a3c42d6bf0e7941d05","width":960}]}],"data":{"alt":"Two Palestinian children walk next to a sewage spill near tents for internally displaced people at a camp in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.","caption":"Two Palestinian children walk next to a sewage spill near tents for internally displaced people at a camp in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.","credit":"Photograph: Haitham Imad/EPA"}},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

“It’s horror,” McCain told NBC’s Meet the Press in an interview to air Sunday. “There is famine – full-blown famine – in the north, and it’s moving its way south.”

She said a ceasefire and a greatly increased flow of aid through land and sea routes was essential to confronting the growing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people.

There was no immediate comment from Israel, which controls entrance into Gaza and says it is beginning to allow in more food and other humanitarian aid through land crossings.

The panel that serves as the internationally recognised monitor for food crises said earlier this year that northern Gaza was on the brink of famine and likely to experience it this month. The next update will not come before this summer.

","elementId":"5e896113-5aea-40bc-ae12-6b9124637e65"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1714807269000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"08.21 BST","blockLastUpdated":1714807854000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"08.30 BST","blockFirstPublished":1714807854000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"08.30 BST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"08.30","title":"Top UN official warns northern Gaza now in ‘full-blown famine’","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Sat 4 May 2024 08.55 BST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Sat 4 May 2024 08.21 BST"},{"id":"66357ce58f082c8a32ea9a8d","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Hamas said on Friday it was sending a delegation to Cairo to discuss a deal for a truce and the release of hostages in Gaza, hours after US CIA director William Burns arrived in the Egyptian capital, Reuters reports.

","elementId":"82b13937-e37c-4e30-b325-b370b0d9ea54"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Hamas and CIA officials will meet Egyptian mediators on Saturday, an Egyptian security source said, though it was unclear whether they would meet separately or together.

","elementId":"a324ccd0-512a-4e52-88d4-11c5dd586a9a"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Hamas said its delegates were travelling to Cairo in a “positive spirit” after studying the latest proposal for a truce agreement.

","elementId":"340445ef-ee63-4616-8981-f570a8a0ae8e"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

“We are determined to secure an agreement in a way that fulfils Palestinians’ demands,” the Palestinian militant group said in a statement.

","elementId":"2ef7f7b9-4524-4cad-9e58-79c0e56d44f8"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

A US official said they believed there had been some progress in talks but was still waiting to hear more.

","elementId":"58593bb2-d49d-4787-ab5d-1521131e0e45"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Hamas was the only hold up to a Gaza ceasefire as the militants prepared to send a delegation back to Cairo on Saturday for talks.

","elementId":"e3f7e43f-de12-4f8b-88c7-035c6cb73052"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

“We wait to see whether, in effect, they can take yes for an answer on the ceasefire and release of hostages,” Blinken said late Friday.

","elementId":"d686a4d3-9102-492f-9a7f-15a3967d7625"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

“The reality in this moment is the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas.”

","elementId":"88bcde12-ec47-4289-9624-d4183d852713"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Ceasefire talks have continued for months without a decisive breakthrough. Israel has said it is determined to eliminate Hamas, while Hamas says it wants a permanent ceasefire and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

","elementId":"9418ff33-0e07-4f93-9155-ad8e009fe288"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Egypt made a renewed push to revive negotiations late last month. Cairo is alarmed by the prospect of an Israeli ground operation against Hamas in Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than one million people have taken shelter near the border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

","elementId":"b93475dd-8fd2-4ce1-9f83-9a59d8d1861e"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Egyptian sources say both sides have made some concessions recently, leading to progress in the talks, though Israel has continued to say an operation in Rafah is imminent.

","elementId":"2e4ca43d-18ae-4244-b3a8-345921069b4f"}],"attributes":{"pinned":true,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1714807269000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"08.21 BST","blockLastUpdated":1714807518000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"08.25 BST","blockFirstPublished":1714807518000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"08.25 BST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"08.25","title":"Hamas sends delegation to Cairo to resume Gaza ceasefire talks","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Sat 4 May 2024 08.55 BST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Sat 4 May 2024 08.21 BST"},{"id":"6635756f8f082c8a32ea9a7e","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Welcome back to our continuing live coverage of the Israel-Gaza war and the wider Middle East crisis, I’m Clea Skopeliti bringing you the latest news.

","elementId":"cb408dcc-a711-4d77-9e24-0c35eb40b0cb"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Hamas said on Friday it was sending a delegation to Cairo to resume Gaza ceasefire talks, hours after US CIA director William Burns arrived in the Egyptian capital, according to Egyptian sources.

Israel this week briefed Biden administration officials on a plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians ahead of a potential operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah aimed at rooting out Hamas militants, according to US officials familiar with the talks.

A top UN official has said that hard-hit northern Gaza was now in “full-blown famine” after more than six months of war between Israel and Hamas and severe Israeli restrictions on food deliveries.

","elementId":"e14eb999-ea2b-498f-85b4-d6f7058b906d"},{"displayCredit":true,"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.ImageBlockElement","role":"inline","media":{"allImages":[{"index":0,"fields":{"height":"3506","width":"5841"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/5841.jpg"},{"index":1,"fields":{"isMaster":"true","height":"3506","width":"5841"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg"},{"index":2,"fields":{"height":"1200","width":"2000"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/2000.jpg"},{"index":3,"fields":{"height":"600","width":"1000"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/1000.jpg"},{"index":4,"fields":{"height":"300","width":"500"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/500.jpg"},{"index":5,"fields":{"height":"84","width":"140"},"mediaType":"Image","mimeType":"image/jpeg","url":"https://media.guim.co.uk/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/140.jpg"}]},"elementId":"f82a456f-67d3-47e5-aa5f-95ac47d64300","imageSources":[{"weighting":"inline","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=2848ab647c9c8bbaceb4c6c895da66de","width":620},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=620&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=30befd37aa7b5a11818bbfc9697ca0d7","width":1240},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=605&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=a8fb478c843d8dc6fa0e412ff4659b39","width":605},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=605&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=99ba1bc786c0fa2441f3dea682e10fdd","width":1210},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=445&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=bc717ceb9c14fb66740ebfb964f32110","width":445},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=445&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=b44fc52b910f8c4876681fecb37d79e6","width":890}]},{"weighting":"thumbnail","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=140&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=00a7a70e4f4d226e41fe9b5d1984fd7a","width":140},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=140&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=bb0342efa2265f6246f64833026b49aa","width":280},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=120&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=84636b1a53f64546594dcb86e625cd82","width":120},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=120&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=74374b5197fef2184241a7f312043217","width":240}]},{"weighting":"supporting","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=380&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=d8383f6f83a968fdd1dd8a95d7df222b","width":380},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=380&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=bf7d9c965dbd80756df5dadf2c95ff2f","width":760},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=e5e424c4759ea813e4f6d6c25ab7ad7a","width":300},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=300&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=df15565292d154ea6c22f90c6edd567e","width":600},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=2848ab647c9c8bbaceb4c6c895da66de","width":620},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=620&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=30befd37aa7b5a11818bbfc9697ca0d7","width":1240},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=605&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=a8fb478c843d8dc6fa0e412ff4659b39","width":605},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=605&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=99ba1bc786c0fa2441f3dea682e10fdd","width":1210},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=445&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=bc717ceb9c14fb66740ebfb964f32110","width":445},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=445&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=b44fc52b910f8c4876681fecb37d79e6","width":890}]},{"weighting":"showcase","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=860&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=df974067d871c5ccc4b426a312cfc1b6","width":860},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=860&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=6bc8e5e056eaede23d29e882769cfc7a","width":1720},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=780&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=0476311cde8c737dc7ab8d680cab8489","width":780},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=780&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=9c3a8f25b0b5eea928ae7c75f1d984ef","width":1560},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=2848ab647c9c8bbaceb4c6c895da66de","width":620},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=620&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=30befd37aa7b5a11818bbfc9697ca0d7","width":1240},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=605&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=a8fb478c843d8dc6fa0e412ff4659b39","width":605},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=605&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=99ba1bc786c0fa2441f3dea682e10fdd","width":1210},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=445&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=bc717ceb9c14fb66740ebfb964f32110","width":445},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=445&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=b44fc52b910f8c4876681fecb37d79e6","width":890}]},{"weighting":"halfwidth","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=2848ab647c9c8bbaceb4c6c895da66de","width":620},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=620&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=30befd37aa7b5a11818bbfc9697ca0d7","width":1240},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=605&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=a8fb478c843d8dc6fa0e412ff4659b39","width":605},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=605&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=99ba1bc786c0fa2441f3dea682e10fdd","width":1210},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=445&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=bc717ceb9c14fb66740ebfb964f32110","width":445},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=445&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=b44fc52b910f8c4876681fecb37d79e6","width":890}]},{"weighting":"immersive","srcSet":[{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=1900&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=d203817d71248dfebdb527cfc9e19319","width":1900},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=1900&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=c60b8b816889a10a4a3d0bda727a42df","width":3800},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=1300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=df5efcb10e13b94262f2500fa524cd58","width":1300},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=1300&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=b683f3189cdd75ca486065f6e8ca36c5","width":2600},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=1140&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=dd61d5b5147a2af5b21ac140d78b6124","width":1140},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=1140&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=93a038487b8623a695789b1ffa6bf83a","width":2280},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=980&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=444e25d125bd01d3185aaa231f215301","width":980},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=980&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=c89848a3b8963f342f67eb4820746b69","width":1960},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=740&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=a472a6aeb4828c54b485b32f836f03c0","width":740},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=740&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=fc5b218cc9aaf9a578df81be067388c7","width":1480},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=660&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=b129c66e1e0a3661d109fa030a470095","width":660},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=660&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=30d9a6effd5defc3ca094477fa265ee1","width":1320},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=480&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=d56d3fd5958aed8b6f63c778b3447223","width":480},{"src":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/81c8b805d73e7c361a240f843f5100ba25326998/0_260_5841_3506/master/5841.jpg?width=480&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=597cf3e8ebcd0a856621cd333e812e7f","width":960}]}],"data":{"alt":"A man walks through the rubble of a destroyed building after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah","caption":"A man walks through the rubble of a destroyed building after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.","credit":"Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock"}},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

More details shortly, but first here is a roundup of other key developments:

","elementId":"6353906e-32b5-48ae-a6bd-c4c87b269e73"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

    \n

  • Scores of Democrats in the US House on Friday urged president Joe Biden to consider halting arms sales to Israel if it does not alter the conduct of its war against Hamas. In a letter signed by 86 Democratic members of Congress, lawmakers voiced “serious concerns regarding the Israeli government’s conduct of the war in Gaza as it pertains to the deliberate withholding of humanitarian aid,” reports Agence France-Presse. The Democrats are pressuring Biden to make clear to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any impediment to aid delivery to Gaza was “risking its eligibility for further offensive security assistance from the United States”.

  • \n

  • An Israeli incursion in Rafah could result in ‘slaughter’, a UN official said on Friday. “It could be a slaughter of civilians and an incredible blow to the humanitarian operation in the entire strip because it is run primarily out of Rafah,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN humanitarian office, at a Geneva press briefing. “Any ground operation would mean more suffering and death.”

  • \n

  • A World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Friday that the agency had a contingency plan prepared in case of an Israeli incursion into Gaza’s Rafah but said it would not be sufficient to prevent a substantial rise in the death toll. “I want to really say that this contingency plan is a Band-Aid,” said Rik Peeperkorn, WHO representative for the occupied Palestinian territory, at a Geneva press briefing via video link.

  • \n

  • An Israeli man held hostage in Gaza since the 7 October Hamas attack has been confirmed dead, the government said early Friday. Dror Or, 49, was killed and his body was held in Gaza since 7 October, said the Be’eri kibbutz where he had lived.

  • \n

  • International criminal court (ICC) prosecutors warned on Friday against “individuals who threaten to retaliate” against the tribunal or its staff, saying such actions might constitute an “offence against its administration of justice”. The ICC did not say if the comment related to its investigation into possible war crimes by Israel or Palestinian groups in Gaza and the West Bank.

  • \n

  • Since October 2023, more than 100 Palestinian reporters have been killed in Gaza, including at least 22 in the course of their work, said Reporters Without Borders (RSF) which published its annual World Press Freedom Index on Friday, marking World Press Freedom Day 2024. The Maghreb and Middle East regions performed the worst in terms of restrictions on press freedom by government forces, according to the report.

  • \n

  • At least 34,622 Palestinians have been killed and 77,867 injured in Israel’s military offensive on Gaza since 7 October, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Friday.

  • \n

","elementId":"82bc2de2-9bf1-4052-9cd7-f6f30c564583"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1714807269000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"08.21 BST","blockLastUpdated":1714807231000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"08.20 BST","blockFirstPublished":1714807269000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"08.21 BST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"08.21","title":"Opening summary","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Sat 4 May 2024 08.55 BST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Sat 4 May 2024 08.21 BST"}],"filterKeyEvents":false,"id":"key-events-carousel-mobile"}” config=”{"renderingTarget":"Web","darkModeAvailable":false,"assetOrigin":"https://assets.guim.co.uk/"}”>

Key events

Israel has briefed the US on its plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians during a planned offensive on the southern city of Rafah, US officials familiar with the matter have said.

The officials, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity, said the Israeli plan did not change the US administration’s view that proceeding with a ground operation in the city where 1.2 million civilians are sheltering would risk too many lives. The World Health Organization has warned has warned that the assault could lead to a “bloodbath”.

But Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will press ahead with the operation in Rafah despite warnings from president Joe Biden and others on the humanitarian consequences.

The Biden administration has said there could be consequences for Israel if it goes ahead with the operation without a credible plan to shield Palestinian civilians.

“Absent such a plan, we can’t support a major military operation going into Rafah because the damage it would do is beyond what’s acceptable,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said late Friday at the Sedona Forum, an event in Arizona hosted by McCain Institute.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday that Israel had not shown a “comprehensive” plan for a potential Rafah operation to the White House.

Rafah assault ‘could lead to a bloodbath’, WHO chief warns

An Israeli military incursion into Gaza’s southern city of Rafah could lead to a “bloodbath”, the World Health Organization warned Friday, announcing contingency plans, AFP reports.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned of possible dire implications for the 1.2 million people sheltering in Rafah.

“WHO is deeply concerned that a full-scale military operation in Rafah, Gaza, could lead to a bloodbath, and further weaken an already broken health system,” the director general said on X, formerly Twitter.

In a statement, the WHO announced contingency efforts, but warned “the broken health system would not be able to cope with a surge in casualties and deaths that a Rafah incursion would cause”.

According to the WHO, most of the besieged territory’s health facilities have been damaged or destroyed amid heavy Israeli bombardment.

Only 12 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals and 22 of its 88 primary health facilities are “partially functional”, the UN health agency said.

“As part of contingency efforts, WHO and partners are urgently working to restore and resuscitate health services,” the statement said.

It added that Rafah’s three currently operational hospitals would become unreachable “when hostilities intensify in their vicinity”.

A new sea route for Gaza aid is on track, USAid says

On-the-ground preparations are on track in Gaza for humanitarian workers to be ready to deliver food, treatment for starving children and other urgent assistance by early or mid-May when the American military expects to finish building a floating pier to receive the shipments, according to a US Agency for International Development (USAid) official, the Associated Press reports.

Tents for displaced people are piled up in the city of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Saher Alghorra/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Ramping up the delivery of aid on a planned US-backed sea route will be gradual as aid groups test the distribution and security arrangements for relief workers, the USAid official said.

These were some of the agency’s first comments on the status of preparations for the Biden administration’s $320m Gaza pier project, for which USAid is helping coordinate on-the-ground security and distribution.

With the Israel-Hamas war stretching close to seven months and Israel restricting humanitarian aid, half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are at imminent risk of famine, international health officials say. Under pressure from the US and others, Israeli officials in recent weeks have begun slowly reopening some border crossings for relief shipments.

But aid coming through the sea route, once it’s operational, still will serve only a fraction – half a million people – of those who need help in Gaza. Aid organisations including USAid stress that getting more aid through border crossings is essential to staving off famine in the territory.

Hamas official accuses Netanyahu of trying to derail Gaza truce deal

A top Hamas official has accused Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday of trying to derail a proposed Gaza truce and hostage release deal with his threats to keep fighting the Palestinian militant group, AFP reports.

“Netanyahu was the obstructionist of all previous rounds of dialogue … and it is clear that he still is,” said senior Hamas official Hossam Badran.

Badran charged that Netanyahu’s insistence on attacking Rafah was calculated to “thwart any possibility of concluding an agreement” in the negotiations brokered by Egyptian, Qatari and US mediators.

Foreign mediators have waited for a Hamas response to a proposal to halt the fighting for 40 days and exchange hostages for Palestinian prisoners, which its chief Ismail Haniyeh has said the group was considering in a “positive spirit”.

A major stumbling block has been that, while Hamas has demanded a lasting ceasefire, Netanyahu has vowed to crush its remaining fighters in the far-southern city of Rafah, which is packed with displaced civilians.

Netanyahu has insisted he will send ground troops into Rafah, despite strong concerns voiced by UN agencies and ally Washington for the safety of the 1.2 million civilians inside the city.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency was “deeply concerned that a full-scale military operation in Rafah … could lead to a bloodbath and further weaken an already broken health system.”

Israeli airstrikes killed several more people in Rafah overnight, Palestinian medics and the civil defence agency said.

Top UN official warns northern Gaza now in ‘full-blown famine’

A top UN official said Friday that hard-hit northern Gaza was now in “full-blown famine” after more than six months of war between Israel and Hamas and severe Israeli restrictions on food deliveries to the Palestinian territory, the Associated Press reports.

Cindy McCain, the American director of the UN World Food Program, became the most prominent international official so far to declare that trapped civilians in the most cut-off part of Gaza had gone over the brink into famine.

Two Palestinian children walk next to a sewage spill near tents for internally displaced people at a camp in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Haitham Imad/EPA

“It’s horror,” McCain told NBC’s Meet the Press in an interview to air Sunday. “There is famine – full-blown famine – in the north, and it’s moving its way south.”

She said a ceasefire and a greatly increased flow of aid through land and sea routes was essential to confronting the growing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people.

There was no immediate comment from Israel, which controls entrance into Gaza and says it is beginning to allow in more food and other humanitarian aid through land crossings.

The panel that serves as the internationally recognised monitor for food crises said earlier this year that northern Gaza was on the brink of famine and likely to experience it this month. The next update will not come before this summer.

Hamas sends delegation to Cairo to resume Gaza ceasefire talks

Hamas said on Friday it was sending a delegation to Cairo to discuss a deal for a truce and the release of hostages in Gaza, hours after US CIA director William Burns arrived in the Egyptian capital, Reuters reports.

Hamas and CIA officials will meet Egyptian mediators on Saturday, an Egyptian security source said, though it was unclear whether they would meet separately or together.

Hamas said its delegates were travelling to Cairo in a “positive spirit” after studying the latest proposal for a truce agreement.

“We are determined to secure an agreement in a way that fulfils Palestinians’ demands,” the Palestinian militant group said in a statement.

A US official said they believed there had been some progress in talks but was still waiting to hear more.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Hamas was the only hold up to a Gaza ceasefire as the militants prepared to send a delegation back to Cairo on Saturday for talks.

“We wait to see whether, in effect, they can take yes for an answer on the ceasefire and release of hostages,” Blinken said late Friday.

“The reality in this moment is the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas.”

Ceasefire talks have continued for months without a decisive breakthrough. Israel has said it is determined to eliminate Hamas, while Hamas says it wants a permanent ceasefire and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Egypt made a renewed push to revive negotiations late last month. Cairo is alarmed by the prospect of an Israeli ground operation against Hamas in Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than one million people have taken shelter near the border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Egyptian sources say both sides have made some concessions recently, leading to progress in the talks, though Israel has continued to say an operation in Rafah is imminent.

Opening summary

Welcome back to our continuing live coverage of the Israel-Gaza war and the wider Middle East crisis, I’m Clea Skopeliti bringing you the latest news.

Hamas said on Friday it was sending a delegation to Cairo to resume Gaza ceasefire talks, hours after US CIA director William Burns arrived in the Egyptian capital, according to Egyptian sources.

Israel this week briefed Biden administration officials on a plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians ahead of a potential operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah aimed at rooting out Hamas militants, according to US officials familiar with the talks.

A top UN official has said that hard-hit northern Gaza was now in “full-blown famine” after more than six months of war between Israel and Hamas and severe Israeli restrictions on food deliveries.

A man walks through the rubble of a destroyed building after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

More details shortly, but first here is a roundup of other key developments:

  • Scores of Democrats in the US House on Friday urged president Joe Biden to consider halting arms sales to Israel if it does not alter the conduct of its war against Hamas. In a letter signed by 86 Democratic members of Congress, lawmakers voiced “serious concerns regarding the Israeli government’s conduct of the war in Gaza as it pertains to the deliberate withholding of humanitarian aid,” reports Agence France-Presse. The Democrats are pressuring Biden to make clear to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any impediment to aid delivery to Gaza was “risking its eligibility for further offensive security assistance from the United States”.

  • An Israeli incursion in Rafah could result in ‘slaughter’, a UN official said on Friday. “It could be a slaughter of civilians and an incredible blow to the humanitarian operation in the entire strip because it is run primarily out of Rafah,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN humanitarian office, at a Geneva press briefing. “Any ground operation would mean more suffering and death.”

  • A World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Friday that the agency had a contingency plan prepared in case of an Israeli incursion into Gaza’s Rafah but said it would not be sufficient to prevent a substantial rise in the death toll. “I want to really say that this contingency plan is a Band-Aid,” said Rik Peeperkorn, WHO representative for the occupied Palestinian territory, at a Geneva press briefing via video link.

  • An Israeli man held hostage in Gaza since the 7 October Hamas attack has been confirmed dead, the government said early Friday. Dror Or, 49, was killed and his body was held in Gaza since 7 October, said the Be’eri kibbutz where he had lived.

  • International criminal court (ICC) prosecutors warned on Friday against “individuals who threaten to retaliate” against the tribunal or its staff, saying such actions might constitute an “offence against its administration of justice”. The ICC did not say if the comment related to its investigation into possible war crimes by Israel or Palestinian groups in Gaza and the West Bank.

  • Since October 2023, more than 100 Palestinian reporters have been killed in Gaza, including at least 22 in the course of their work, said Reporters Without Borders (RSF) which published its annual World Press Freedom Index on Friday, marking World Press Freedom Day 2024. The Maghreb and Middle East regions performed the worst in terms of restrictions on press freedom by government forces, according to the report.

  • At least 34,622 Palestinians have been killed and 77,867 injured in Israel’s military offensive on Gaza since 7 October, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The Guardian