Israel-Gaza war live: hopes rise over hostages and ceasefire deal

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We are restarting our live coverage of the Israel-Gaza war and wider Middle East crisis. I’m Tom Ambrose and I’ll be bringing you all the latest news from the region throughout today.

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We start with news that Hamas has accepted a US proposal to begin talks on releasing Israeli hostages, including soldiers and men, 16 days after the first phase of an agreement aimed at ending the Gaza war, a senior Hamas source has told Reuters.

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The militant Islamist group has dropped a demand that Israel first commit to a permanent ceasefire before signing the agreement, and would allow negotiations to achieve that throughout the six-week first phase, the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

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It reported:

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A Palestinian official close to the internationally mediated peace efforts had said the proposal could lead to a framework agreement if embraced by Israel and would end the nine-month-old war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

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A source in Israel’s negotiating team, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was now a real chance of achieving agreement. That was in sharp contrast to past instances in the nine-month-old war in Gaza, when Israel said conditions attached by Hamas were unacceptable.

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A spokesperson for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. On Friday his office said talks would continue next week and emphasised that gaps between the sides still remained.

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Meanwhile, in other news:

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    \n

  • Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and top Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and negotiations aimed at reaching a ceasefire there during a meeting, Hezbollah said on Friday. Nasrallah received Hamas deputy chief Hayya for the meeting, which reviewed “the latest security and political developments” in the Gaza Strip.

  • \n

  • Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was quoted by Turkish media as saying he hoped a “final ceasefire” could be secured “in a couple of days”, and urged western countries to put pressure on Israel to accept the terms on offer.

  • \n

  • Seven Palestinians were killed in an Israeli military offensive on the West Bank city of Jenin on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said. Israel’s military said in a statement its forces had encircled a building where militants had barricaded themselves in, and that an Israeli aircraft had struck targets in the area. The Palestinian news agency Wafa said military vehicles surrounded a house in a Jenin refugee camp and loudspeaker demands were made for an occupant to surrender. Shoulder-fired missiles were then used and a drone attacked the house, it added.

  • \n

  • On 20 May, the same day international criminal court prosecutor Karim Khan made a surprise request for warrants to arrest the leaders of Israel and Hamas involved in the Gaza conflict, he suddenly cancelled a sensitive mission to collect evidence in the region, eight people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Planning for the visit had been under way for months with US officials, four of the sources said. Khan’s move has harmed operational cooperation with the US and angered the UK a sources told Reuters.

  • \n

  • Hamas said on Friday it rejected any statements and positions that support plans for foreign forces to enter the Gaza Strip under any name or justification. The group said the administration of the Gaza Strip is a purely Palestinian matter. “The Palestinian people … will not allow any guardianship or the imposition of any external solutions or equations,” it added.

  • \n

  • Hezbollah said it had fired 200 rockets into Israel in one of its largest barrages yet. Israel confirmed the Iran-backed militant group had fired “numerous projectiles and suspicious aerial targets” from Lebanon on Thursday towards the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and more than 15 drones into Israeli territory, many of which it said were intercepted. An Israeli military spokesperson said there were no casualties reported.

  • \n

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Key events

Lorenzo Tondo

Lorenzo Tondo

The head of the Mossad intelligence agency, David Barnea, travelled alone to Doha to meet Qatar’s prime minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, to study proposals from Hamas to pause the nearly nine-month war, the Kan public broadcaster reported, citing senior Israeli officials.

He returned to Israel after an initial meeting, and negotiations will resume next week, Netanyahu’s office said late on Friday.

The United States appears to hold high expectations regarding the recently resumed contact between Israel and Hamas, with the White House describing the latest Hamas ceasefire proposal as a “breakthrough” establishing a framework for a possible hostage deal.

‘‘I think the framework is now in place and we have to work out the implementation steps,” a senior US official said. “What we got back from Hamas was a pretty significant adjustment to what had been their position, and that is encouraging. We have heard the same from the Israelis.”

The main obstacle in negotiations until this week had been widely differing views on how the agreement would move from its first phase to its second.

Opening summary

We are restarting our live coverage of the Israel-Gaza war and wider Middle East crisis. I’m Tom Ambrose and I’ll be bringing you all the latest news from the region throughout today.

We start with news that Hamas has accepted a US proposal to begin talks on releasing Israeli hostages, including soldiers and men, 16 days after the first phase of an agreement aimed at ending the Gaza war, a senior Hamas source has told Reuters.

The militant Islamist group has dropped a demand that Israel first commit to a permanent ceasefire before signing the agreement, and would allow negotiations to achieve that throughout the six-week first phase, the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

It reported:

A Palestinian official close to the internationally mediated peace efforts had said the proposal could lead to a framework agreement if embraced by Israel and would end the nine-month-old war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

A source in Israel’s negotiating team, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was now a real chance of achieving agreement. That was in sharp contrast to past instances in the nine-month-old war in Gaza, when Israel said conditions attached by Hamas were unacceptable.

A spokesperson for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. On Friday his office said talks would continue next week and emphasised that gaps between the sides still remained.

Meanwhile, in other news:

  • Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and top Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and negotiations aimed at reaching a ceasefire there during a meeting, Hezbollah said on Friday. Nasrallah received Hamas deputy chief Hayya for the meeting, which reviewed “the latest security and political developments” in the Gaza Strip.

  • Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was quoted by Turkish media as saying he hoped a “final ceasefire” could be secured “in a couple of days”, and urged western countries to put pressure on Israel to accept the terms on offer.

  • Seven Palestinians were killed in an Israeli military offensive on the West Bank city of Jenin on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said. Israel’s military said in a statement its forces had encircled a building where militants had barricaded themselves in, and that an Israeli aircraft had struck targets in the area. The Palestinian news agency Wafa said military vehicles surrounded a house in a Jenin refugee camp and loudspeaker demands were made for an occupant to surrender. Shoulder-fired missiles were then used and a drone attacked the house, it added.

  • On 20 May, the same day international criminal court prosecutor Karim Khan made a surprise request for warrants to arrest the leaders of Israel and Hamas involved in the Gaza conflict, he suddenly cancelled a sensitive mission to collect evidence in the region, eight people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Planning for the visit had been under way for months with US officials, four of the sources said. Khan’s move has harmed operational cooperation with the US and angered the UK a sources told Reuters.

  • Hamas said on Friday it rejected any statements and positions that support plans for foreign forces to enter the Gaza Strip under any name or justification. The group said the administration of the Gaza Strip is a purely Palestinian matter. “The Palestinian people … will not allow any guardianship or the imposition of any external solutions or equations,” it added.

  • Hezbollah said it had fired 200 rockets into Israel in one of its largest barrages yet. Israel confirmed the Iran-backed militant group had fired “numerous projectiles and suspicious aerial targets” from Lebanon on Thursday towards the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and more than 15 drones into Israeli territory, many of which it said were intercepted. An Israeli military spokesperson said there were no casualties reported.

The Guardian