Hamas official says delegation leaves Cairo for Doha as truce talks end

AFP , Sunday 5 May 2024

A Hamas official told AFP that the group's negotiators in Cairo were leaving for Doha Sunday after talks ended in the Egyptian capital, part of mediation efforts towards a truce in Gaza.

Palestinians react next to the bodies of their relatives who were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza Stirp, at the Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza, May 2024. AP


"The meeting in Cairo has ended and the Hamas delegation is leaving for Doha for further consultations," said the official, who is close to the negotiations, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to publicly discuss the talks.

In a separate statement, Hamas insisted it maintained a "positive and responsible approach" towards the negotiations and said it was determined to reach an agreement.

The statement mentioned that Hamas's key demands include "a complete end" to the fighting, Israeli withdrawal "from the entire Gaza Strip, the facilitation of the return of displaced people, the intensification of relief efforts, the start of reconstruction and the conclusion of a prisoner exchange deal".

Earlier, at around the same time the Hamas delegation was meeting Qatari and Egyptian mediators according to a Hamas source, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "surrendering" to a demand to end the war would amount to defeat.

According to a statement from Netanyahu's office, he told his cabinet Israel would not let Hamas "take control of Gaza again, rebuild their military infrastructure and return to threaten the citizens of Israel".

"Israel will not agree to Hamas's demands, which mean surrender, and will continue the fighting until all its goals are achieved," he added.

The political chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, countered by accusing Netanyahu of sabotaging the talks.

Haniyeh said Netanyahu wanted to "invent constant justifications for the continuation of aggression, expanding the circle of conflict, and sabotaging efforts made through various mediators and parties".

He said Hamas "remains eager to reach a comprehensive and interconnected agreement in stages, ending the aggression, ensuring withdrawal, and achieving a serious prisoner exchange deal".

Negotiators met in Cairo Sunday without an Israeli delegation present.

The mediators had proposed a 40-day pause in the fighting and an exchange of captives for Palestinian prisoners, according to details released by Britain.

Any truce reached would be the first since a week-long November ceasefire saw a captive-prisoner swap.


An AFP correspondent and witnesses on Sunday reported shelling and gunfire in the Gaza City area, helicopter fire in central and southern Gaza, and a missile strike on a house in the Rafah area.

"We want a ceasefire and for Gaza to return to how it was, or even better... We want a permanent ceasefire," said displaced woman Umm Jamil al-Ghussein in the southern city of Rafah, where about 1.2 million Gazans have sought shelter.

Arwa Saqr, displaced from Khan Yunis, said it seemed like every round of negotiations follows "the same scenario".

"We've become hopeless that the negotiations will succeed."

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