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Talks for a cease-fire in Gaza appear set to resume as the war reaches 9 months

Palestinians look at the aftermath of the Israeli airstrike on a U.N.-run school in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on July 6.
Saher Alghorra
/
AP
Palestinians look at the aftermath of the Israeli airstrike on a U.N.-run school in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on July 6.

Israel and Hamas appear set to resume negotiations this week over a potential cease-fire deal outlined by President Biden in May, as the war reached the nine-month mark on Sunday and daily clashes in Gaza continue.

The plan, beginning with a six-week cease-fire, would be the first halt in fighting since a roughly week-long cease-fire in November. That pause resulted in the release of more than 100 hostages seized by Hamas-led militants during the Oct. 7 attack and nearly 250 Palestinians from Israeli jails.

Hamas now appears potentially willing to accept a more gradual approach to its core demands, including a permanent end to the fighting and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, according to multiple officials close to the talks who requested anonymity.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given no indication that he’s budging from Israel’s main demand: the destruction of Hamas as a political and military force.

Still, in a call with Netanyahu on Thursday, Biden “welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to authorize his negotiators to engage with U.S., Qatari, and Egyptian mediators in an effort to close out the deal,” the White House said.

The promise of another cease-fire comes nine months after Hamas led a surprise attack inside Israel on Oct. 7 and killed more than 1,200 people, according to the Israeli government. At least 240 hostages were taken by Hamas and other attackers, 120 of whom remain in Gaza. About one third of the remaining hostages are believed to be dead.

Israel’s subsequent military invasion of Gaza has killed at least 38,000 Palestinians and injured more than 87,000 others, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

Anti-government demonstrations were held in Israel on Sunday, exactly nine months after the Oct. 7 attack, as part of a national “day of disruption” to demand new elections and call attention to the hostages still being held captive in Gaza.

On Saturday, the Gaza Ministry of Health said Israel launched a strike near a school in the Nuseirat refugee camp, killing 16 people and wounding 50. The Israel Defense Forces said it “struck several terrorists” nearby and that “numerous steps were taken in order to mitigate the risk of harming civilians” before the strike.

Meanwhile, there are concerns about an escalation in fighting between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

The Israeli military said rockets from Lebanon were fired deeper than usual into northern Israel over the weekend. At least 20 rockers were launched farther into the lower Galilee on Sunday, leaving one person seriously wounded, paramedics said.

Hezbollah said it fired dozens of rockets — including at an airbase — in response to recent Israeli strikes in Lebanon.

The militia has traded fire with Israeli forces over the country’s northern border throughout the war in Gaza, but Hezbollah has largely kept its targets relatively close to the border and avoided a larger escalation with Israel. Hezbollah has said it will stop firing when the war in Gaza is over.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.
Greg Myre is a national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community, a position that follows his many years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts around the globe.