Egypt sending delegation to Israel in hope of reaching cease-fire agreement with Hamas; AP explains

(26 Apr 2024)
RESTRICTION SUMMARY:

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Jerusalem – 26 April 2024
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SOUNDBITE (English) Jon Gambrell, Associated Press:
"Egypt’s top intelligence official is in Israel. He’s part of a delegation that’s here trying to reach any kind of terms for a cease-fire in the Israeli war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Now, this has been described as sort of a last ditch effort ahead of a possible Israeli ground offensive in Rafah. That’s that city in the southern Gaza Strip, where half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people now live. The Israelis, in footage that The Associated Press has gathered, have already put armored personnel carriers, tanks and other equipment in southern Israel potentially preparing for that ground offensive. We’ve also seen tents starting to be built north of Rafah, suggesting that there might be this ground offensive. Now, it hasn’t started yet, and the Israelis still want to try to get some of those over 100 hostages believed to still be held in the Gaza Strip back to Israel. Those negotiations are ongoing, and it remains unclear whether or not there’ll be a breakthrough. But as of right now, the threat of that Rafah offensive remains real. And this does seem to be an effort to try to halt it."
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STORYLINE:
Egypt has sent a high-level delegation to Israel in the hope of reaching a cease-fire agreement with Hamas in Gaza, while warning a possible new Israeli offensive focused on the southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt could have catastrophic consequences for regional stability, two officials said Friday.

Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group fired anti-tank missiles and artillery shells at an Israeli military convoy in a disputed area along the border late Thursday, killing an Israeli civilian, the group and Israel’s military said.

Earlier, Palestinian hospital officials said Israeli airstrikes on Rafah killed at least five people.

More than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have sought refuge in the city. The Israeli military has massed dozens of tanks and armored vehicles in the area in what appears to be preparations for an invasion of Rafah.

The Israel-Hamas war was sparked by the unprecedented Oct. 7 raid into southern Israel in which militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 hostages. Israel says the militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

The war has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, around two-thirds of them children and women.

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