Middle East crisis live: Hamas reportedly studying new ceasefire proposal; WHO outlines ‘hellish conditions’ in Gaza | Israel

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Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh going to Cairo to discuss ceasefire proposal

A senior Hamas official has told the Reuters news agency that the group is studying a new proposal for a ceasefire and release of hostages in Gaza, presented by mediators after talks with Israel.

The ceasefire proposal followed talks in Paris involving intelligence chiefs from Israel, the United States and Egypt, with the prime minister of Qatar. In a mark of the seriousness of the negotiations, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said he was going to Cairo to discuss it, his first public trip there for more than a month.

The proposal reportedly involved a three-stage truce, during which the group would first release remaining civilians among the hostages it captured on 7 October, then soldiers, and finally the bodies of hostages that were killed.

The proposal appears to be the most serious peace initiative since a brief truce in late November.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from the Biden White House to chart a path towards ending the war, and domestically from relatives of hostages who worry that negotiations are the only way to bring them home. But far-right parties in his ruling coalition say they will quit rather than endorse a deal to free hostages that left Hamas intact.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu repeated his vow not to pull troops out of Gaza until “total victory”, a reminder of the huge gap in the public stances of the warring sides over what it would take to halt combat even temporarily.

Key events

Iran’s envoy to the United Nations, Amir Saeid Iravani, has warned that Tehran would respond decisively to any attack on its territory, its interests, or Iranian nationals outside its borders.

His comments come a day after US president Joe Biden said he had decided how to respond to a drone attack by Iran-aligned groups that killed US service members in Jordan, without elaborating.

The Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Patrick Wintour, has been looking into the mood in Iran as Biden mulls his response.

The UN’s coordinator for Gaza aid has said nothing can “replace or substitute” UNRWA, the UN Palestinian refugee agency.

“There is no way that any organization can replace or substitute [the] tremendous capacity, the fabric of UNRWA – [their] ability and their knowledge of the population in Gaza,” said aid coordinator Sigrid Kaag.

Several countries, including the US, Britain, Germany and Australia, have suspended funding to UNRWA after some staff were implicated in the Hamas attacks on Israel.

UNRWA says it has acted promptly over allegations by Israel that 12 of its staff were involved in the Hamas attacks, adding that cuts in funding would affect ordinary Palestinians.

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UN secretary general António Guterres met with dozens of UNRWA donors in New York for more than two hours on Tuesday, to discuss the actions being taken in response to the Israeli accusations that some agency staff took part in the 7 October attack by Hamas militants.

The Reuters news agency reported that several ambassadors described the meeting as constructive.

Guterres appealed to countries who had suspended funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees to reconsider and to “other countries, including those in the region, also to step up to the plate,” Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters after the meeting.

China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun said Guterres shared information with donors about the individual accusations made against UNRWA staff.

“We are at a very critical moment in coping with the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and the war is still going on … we should not allow these individual cases to dilute our attention in pursuing a ceasefire,” Zhang told reporters.

The accusations became public on Friday when UNRWA announced it had fired some staff after Israel provided the agency with information. Guterres said on Sunday that of 12 people implicated nine were fired, one is dead, and the identity of the remaining two was being clarified.

The United States – UNRWA’s biggest donor – temporarily paused its funding, along with a number of other countries.

The US ambassador to the UN said earlier on Tuesday that UNRWA needs to make “fundamental changes” before Washington will resume funding.

WHO decries ‘serious shortage’ of medicine, fuel and food at Nasser hospital

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), has said that Nasser hospital in southern Gaza is only “minimally functioning” and facing shortages of major resources.

The hospital – Gaza’s largest remaining healthcare facility – is situated in the southern city of Khan Younis which has been under sustained assault from Israeli forces.

Although the WHO says it was able to deliver some medical supplies on Monday, there remains shortages of “specialised medical practitioners”, “medicines, oxygen, food, fuel” and “ways to dispose of solid waste”.

Efforts to deliver food to the hospital were delayed, said Tedros.

Today, due to delays around the checkpoint, the crowds took food being delivered, and once again it did not reach Nasser. This underscores the utter desperation of people in Gaza, who live in hellish conditions, including severe hunger. We continue to seek permission to deliver the fuel to the hospital.

Three Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza

The IDF has announced that three soldiers were killed in Gaza on Monday.

They were named as Sgt Maj (Res) Yuval Nir, 43; Capt (Res) Gavriel Shani, 28; Maj (Res) Netzer Simchi, 30.

The Israeli army has said that all three died in fighting. The army also said that five soldiers were seriously injured.

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Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh going to Cairo to discuss ceasefire proposal

A senior Hamas official has told the Reuters news agency that the group is studying a new proposal for a ceasefire and release of hostages in Gaza, presented by mediators after talks with Israel.

The ceasefire proposal followed talks in Paris involving intelligence chiefs from Israel, the United States and Egypt, with the prime minister of Qatar. In a mark of the seriousness of the negotiations, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said he was going to Cairo to discuss it, his first public trip there for more than a month.

The proposal reportedly involved a three-stage truce, during which the group would first release remaining civilians among the hostages it captured on 7 October, then soldiers, and finally the bodies of hostages that were killed.

The proposal appears to be the most serious peace initiative since a brief truce in late November.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from the Biden White House to chart a path towards ending the war, and domestically from relatives of hostages who worry that negotiations are the only way to bring them home. But far-right parties in his ruling coalition say they will quit rather than endorse a deal to free hostages that left Hamas intact.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu repeated his vow not to pull troops out of Gaza until “total victory”, a reminder of the huge gap in the public stances of the warring sides over what it would take to halt combat even temporarily.

Welcome and summary

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s continuing coverage of the crisis in the Middle East.

The Hamas leadership is studying a new proposal for a ceasefire and release of hostages from Gaza, in what is being considered the most serious peace initiative in months.

As details of the truce emerge, analysts have cautioned that huge gaps remain in the public stances of the warring sides over what it would take to halt combat even temporarily.

We’ll have more on that in a moment, first here’s a summary of the day’s other main events.

  • Joe Biden has said he has decided how to respond to a drone attack on a US service base on Sunday that killed three US service personnel and injured dozens in Jordan. The US president did not elaborate on his decision but said he wasn’t looking for a wider war in the Middle East. The US could opt for a tiered response involving “multiple actions”, the White House’s national security spokesperson, John Kirby, said.

  • Biden’s statement came as the Iran-backed militia that Washington blamed for the attack said it had suspended anti-US operations. Kataib Hezbollah said its the decision was intended to prevent “embarrassment” to the Iraqi government.

  • Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he will not accept any ceasefire deal that requires the departure of Israeli troops from Gaza or the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Netanyahu poured cold water on any deal that required Israeli soldiers to leave Gaza permanently without a clear military victory, saying the war in Gaza was not “another round” with Hamas and he would not end it without achieving Israel’s goals.

  • The Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said he was willing to travel to Cairo to discuss proposals for a potential new deal. Haniyeh said the group’s aim remained to end Israel’s military offensive in Gaza and secure a full pullout of Israeli forces from the territory. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad secretary general, Ziad al-Nakhala, ruled out the group engaging in any ceasefire that does not involve the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.

  • Egypt, Qatar and the US are hoping to see if the two sides can be persuaded to accept a ceasefire lasting at least a month, which would offer the chance for almost all the hostages to be released. The proposal, described as a framework, was hammered out during talks in Paris. Leaks suggest the first phase of the proposed ceasefire would include the release of about 35 hostages including civilian women, older men and hostages who are ill or injured, in return for a six-week pause of the fighting. The second stage would be focused on male and female soldiers, and the third stage would see the release of the bodies of dead hostages.

  • Israeli forces dressed in doctors’ scrubs and women’s clothes killed three Palestinian militants in an undercover operation in a hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. The units entered Ibn Sina hospital on the outskirts of the city’s refugee camp early on Tuesday, CCTV footage of the aftermath of the operation showed. The hospital’s medical director said the three killed were “executed in cold blood”.

  • The Israel Defense Forces denied reports that its forces stormed al-Amal hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, or that it ordered people inside to evacuate at gunpoint. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) on Tuesday said Israeli forces had demanded displaced people and its teams to evacuate the building “under the threat of arms”. A later update said Israeli tanks were stationed in the front yard of the hospital as Israeli forces were firing live ammunition and smoke grenades at displaced individuals and its staff.

  • The Israeli military said it had channelled seawater into Gaza’s tunnels in an effort to destroy the sprawling underground network used by Hamas militants. An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) statement said it was “part of a range of tools deployed by the IDF to neutralise the threat of Hamas’s subterranean network of tunnels.” Israeli officials have said Hamas’s underground system has been key to its operations on the battlefield.

  • A total of 26,751 Palestinians have now been killed and 65,636 wounded by Israeli military action in Gaza since 7 October, according to the latest figures from the Gaza health ministry on Tuesday. The figures include 114 Palestinians killed and 249 injured in the past 24 hours. Israel claims it has killed about 9,000 enemy combatants while losing 221 of its own forces in the ground campaign inside the territory.

  • Israel has handed over to Palestinian authorities the bodies of dozens of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in Gaza in recent weeks, health officials in the Palestinian territory have said. The bodies, which had been held in Israel, were handed over on Tuesday through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing and would be buried in mass graves in the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, the officials said.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged donors not to suspend funding to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA after Israel accused some of its workers of taking part in Hamas’s 7 October attack. “Cutting off funding will only hurt the people of Gaza who desperately need support,” the WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.



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