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Egyptian delegation arrives in Israel to take forward ceasefire, hostage talks amid war

Palestinian children inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Rafah (Photo: Reuters)

Amid deadlock on ceasefire negotiations between Hamas and Israel, an Egyptian delegation has arrived in Israel to take forward the negotiations and implement a ceasefire in Gaza, CNN reported citing Egyptian and Israeli officials on Saturday.

The Egyptian delegates are also set to continue discussions with Israeli officials on security coordination around a potential Israeli operation in Rafah, another Israeli official said.

Egypt is concerned about the implications of a full-scale Israeli operation in Rafah, close to its border, where around a million displaced Palestinians have taken shelter in recent months.

Despite months of talks mediated by Qatar and Egypt, Hamas and Israel have failed to reach an agreement over differences on key demands.

A senior US administration official said on Thursday that there are “some indications of an avenue” to broker a deal.

The latest framework presented over several rounds of talks in Qatar and Egypt includes a six-week ceasefire and the release of some hostages held by Hamas in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, CNN reported.

One key demand by Hamas is the “unrestricted” return of displaced Palestinians from the south of Gaza to the north.

The US official confirmed that the draft agreement included that element, but “there are provisions” for ensuring the safety of those returning.

“That means shelter, that means assistance. That means a UN mission to make sure things are ready,” the official said.

Hamas said Saturday it had received a response from Israel over its position on the ceasefire talks, CNN reported.

“The movement will study this proposal, and upon completion of its study, it will submit its response,” it said in a statement.