Israel To Send Delegation For Gaza Truce Talks In Paris


(MENAFN- IANS) Jerusalem, Feb 23 (IANS) Israel's war cabinet decided on Thursday night to send a delegation for Gaza ceasefire talks in Paris on Friday, as international negotiators renew efforts to secure a deal between Israel and Hamas.

A government official confirmed to Xinhua news agency that the head of the Mossad intelligence agency, David Barnea, will lead the Israeli delegation. The talks will be attended by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani and Director of US Central Intelligence Agency William Burns.

The White House's Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk, was in Israel on Thursday for talks with senior officials to negotiate the release of hostages held in Gaza and to secure a pause in the fighting.

McGurk's visit comes amid heightened efforts to broker a ceasefire agreement, as Israel's declared intention to launch an incursion into the densely populated city of Rafah raised global concern and more than four months of heavy Israeli bombardments in the Gaza Strip had killed 29,410 Palestinians and wounded 69,465 others as of Thursday.

After meeting McGurk, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is "preparing the continuation of intense ground operations".

Gallant's office said in a statement that their meeting focused on efforts to free the remaining 134 hostages still held in Gaza, at least 30 of whom are believed to be dead.

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