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Live updates | Hamas leader leaves Egypt after cease-fire talks with officials there

Hamas says its top political leader has left Egypt after holding talks with Egyptian officials about a possible cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, and an exchange of hostages held by the militants for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel

The Associated Press
Friday 23 February 2024 06:50 GMT

Hamas says its political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, has left Egypt after holding talks with Egyptian officials about a possible cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and an exchange of hostages held by the militants for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

During Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, militants killed about 1,200 people and took some 250 hostages. Roughly half of the hostages were released during a weeklong cease-fire in November. About 100 hostages remain in captivity, in addition to the bodies of 30 others who were killed on Oct. 7 or died in captivity.

Israel’s subsequent offensive in Gaza has killed more than 29,000 Palestinians and driven some 80% of the territory’s 2.3 million people from their homes. Most heeded Israeli orders to flee south, and around 1.5 million are packed into Rafah near the border with Egypt.

European diplomats have ramped up calls for a cease-fire as alarm grows over the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Currently:

— Mideast cease-fire efforts gain steam as a U.S. envoy visits. Mediators report ‘encouraging’ signs.

— Denmark records its highest number of antisemitic incidents since WWII, part of a grim European trend.

— A Houthi rebel attack sets a cargo ship ablaze and forces Israel to intercept another attack near Eilat.

— Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here's the latest:

HAMAS LEADER LEAVES EGYPT AFTER HOLDING TALKS WITH EGYPTIAN OFFICIALS OVER A POSSIBLE CEASE-FIRE

BEIRUT — Hamas says its political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, has left Egypt after holding talks with Egyptian officials about a possible cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and an exchange of hostages held by the militants for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

The statement released early Friday by Hamas did not say whether Haniyeh’s talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel about ways of ending the war, a hostage deal and the flow of aid to Gaza were successful or led to a breakthrough.

The talks in Cairo came ahead of a high-level meeting expected over the weekend in Paris, where international mediators will present a new proposal. The United States, Egypt and Qatar have been struggling for weeks to find a formula that could halt Israel’s devastating offensive in Gaza, but now face an unofficial deadline as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches.

Israel seeks a phased deal, including a temporary pause in fighting in exchange for the release of some of the roughly 100 hostages still held by militants since the brutal Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel. Israel has vowed to keep fighting until Hamas is crushed.

Hamas initially demanded to end the war, now in its fifth month, before hostages can be released. Hamas has said that it would release the Israeli hostages in return for the all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Israel rejected that demand, and mediators have been working on a new deal.

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