Israel Palestine Conflict

Families of Israeli hostages in Gaza launch 4-day march to demand their freedom

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The families of hostages held in Gaza and their supporters are launching a four-day march from southern Israel to Jerusalem to demand their loved ones be set free.

The march comes as negotiations are underway in Qatar to bring about a deal between Hamas and Israel that would lead to a cease-fire in exchange for the release of hostages. US President Joe Biden has said such a deal was at hand but officials from Israel and Hamas were skeptical of his optimism.

Negotiators from the US, Egypt and Qatar are working on a framework deal under which Hamas would free some of the dozens of hostages it holds, in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners and a six-week halt in fighting.

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During the temporary pause, negotiations would continue over the release of the remaining hostages.

The war has unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and sparked global concern over the situation in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost town along the border with Egypt, where 1.4 million Palestinians have sought safety from Israel’s daily bombardments.

Nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed after almost five months of Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip, according to the Health Ministry, which does not distinguish in its count between fighters and noncombatants. Israel says it has killed 10,000 militants, without providing evidence.

The war began after Hamas-led militants stormed across southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 others hostage.

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