Israeli Strikes Kill Dozens In Gaza; More Peace Talks In Paris


Israeli strikes have killed dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry said Saturday, while an Israeli delegation led by the chief of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, David Barnea, is in Paris for negotiations aimed at returning the remaining hostages held by Palestinian militants.

Peace mediators in Paris are working to secure a cease-fire in Gaza in hopes of averting an Israeli offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million displaced people are sheltering.

Israeli forces launched more than 70 strikes since Friday on locations in Gaza, including Deir al-Balah, Khan Younis and Rafah. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Saturday at least 92 people were killed in the strikes, bringing the total to at least 29,606 people killed in the Palestinian territory during the war between militants and Israel.

Some 69,737 people have been injured since the conflict began on October 7, a statement read.

Israel says it will attack the city of Rafah if no truce agreement is reached soon. Washington has urged its ally not to do so, warning that such an attack would cause vast civilian casualties.

Despair and hunger are gripping residents of the enclave.

The World Food Program this week said its teams reported “unprecedented levels of desperation,” while the United Nations warned that 2.2 million people were on the brink of famine.

On Friday, the Gaza health ministry said a 2-month-old baby died of malnutrition outside the city of Jabalia in northern Gaza.

The U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, has warned that the alarming lack of food and surging malnutrition and disease could lead to an “explosion” in child deaths in Gaza.

One in six children under 2 years old in Gaza was acutely malnourished, UNICEF estimated on February 19.


Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met Egyptian mediators in Cairo to discuss a truce this past week on his first visit since December.

A Hamas official, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the subject, said the militant group did not offer any new proposal at the talks with the Egyptians and was waiting to see what the mediators would bring back from their talks with the Israelis.

“We discussed our proposal with them [the Egyptians], and we are going to wait until they return from Paris,” Reuters cited the Hamas official as saying.

Late Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented his security Cabinet with an official postwar plan for Gaza in which Israel would have full security control over the enclave without Hamas leadership and without any governance by the Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank.

It calls, in cooperation with Egypt and in coordination with the United States, for Israel to control entry and exit from Gaza to Egypt through the southern border. It is not clear if Egypt has approved the plan. U.S. cable news network CNN quotes an Israeli official as saying Egypt was “aligned” with the United States regarding the plan, although Washington favors a role for a reformed Palestinian Authority in Gaza.

Media reports indicated Palestinian representatives who have seen the plan have rejected it. Parts of the plan also run counter to what Washington has envisioned for the region, which is a “two-state” solution involving an independent Palestinian state.

Similar cease-fire talks were held in Paris at the start of February, but they yielded no results. Hamas, which is still holding more than 100 hostages since it attacked southern Israel on October 7, said it would free the hostages as part of a truce that ensures Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.

Netanyahu rejected the Hamas proposal, calling it “delusional.”


The VOA is the Voice of America

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