Israel official says ‘intention’ to renew Gaza hostage deal talks soon

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An Israeli official said Saturday the government intended to renew talks for a Gaza hostage release deal in coming days, after a meeting with mediators in Paris.

“There is an intention to renew the talks this week and there is an agreement,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The Israeli official did not elaborate on what had been agreed but Israeli media reported that intelligence chief David Barnea had agreed a new framework for the stalled negotiations with mediators CIA Director Bill Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

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Washington said top diplomat Antony Blinken had also spoken with Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz about new efforts to achieve a ceasefire and reopen the border crossing in Gaza’s far-southern city of Rafah.

Al-Qahera News, which has links with Egyptian intelligence, said Cairo was continuing “its efforts to reactivate ceasefire negotiations and exchange prisoners and detainees.”

It added that Egypt was exerting “all kinds of pressure on Israel to urgently let in the aid and fuel” stranded at the Rafah crossing after its closure by Israel earlier this month.

Talks aimed at reaching a hostage release and truce deal for Gaza ground to a halt this month after Israel launched a military operation in Rafah.

The war erupted after Hamas’s October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,903 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.

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