With the Israel-Hamas war nearing four month completion, a top official of the Palestinian group has said they need more time to “announce our position” in a proposed framework for a hostage deal presented to them by Israel and ceasefire mediators Qatar, Egypt and the US.
Osama Hamdan, a top Hamas official in Lebanon, said that the group’s leaders are reviewing the proposed framework, news agency AFP reported. Speaking at a news conference, he added that Hamas has “repeatedly said” it was “open to discussing any initiative… putting an end to this barbaric aggression against our Palestinian people”.
His statement came as health authorities in Gaza, under Hamas, said over 27,000 Palestinians have been confirmed killed since the war that began after Hamas’s unprecedented and suprise attack on Israel on October 7, news agency Reuters reported.
Here are the 5 latest developments in the Israel-Hamas war:
A Hamas source told AFP that the current three-stage truce proposal includes an initial six-week pause in fighting that would see some hostages released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, with potential extensions. Osama Hamdan claimed that Israel has “rejected all initiatives made so far… in order to continue the aggression”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East again on Sunday for a five-day trip. An official statement from his office on Friday said he will travel to Egypt, Qatar, the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Blinken will continue diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement that secures the release of all remaining hostages in the Gaza Strip and includes a ceasefire to deliver assistance to Gaza civilians.
The White House says a Republican proposal for $17.6 billion in military aid for Israel and to replenish US weapons stockpiles, but which leaves out more help for Ukraine, is a “cynical political manoeuvre”, The Associated Press reported. Announced by Republican Ken Calvert of California, the bill comes as the US Senate is set to consider a bill re-upping the country’s funding for Ukraine, while also providing aid to Israel and strengthening controls along the US-Mexico border.
The House has already approved around $14.5 billion military aid package for Israel in November that the Senate declined to take up.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Sunday that his government was investigating allegations that some of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) were involved in Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, after Australia paused funding to the aid agency last month. “We’re examining it, along with other like-minded countries like Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. We want that to be resolved,” Albanese added.