Hamas Delegation Joins Mediators In Cairo For Gaza Ceasefire Talks


(MENAFN- IANS) Cairo, March 4 (IANS) A Hamas delegation has joined Qatari and US mediators in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, for talks on a new ceasefire amid indications that Israel had "more or less accepted" a six-week phased hostage and truce deal before the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The US on Sunday said that the six-week pause would see the release of more Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, the BBC reported.

Hamas is reported to have said that an agreement on a truce could be reached within the next 24 to 48 hours, with a source from the group telling Egyptian media a deal depended on Israel agreeing to its demands, the British news broadcaster reported.

Pressure for a deal intensified after February 29's incident outside Gaza City in the north of the territory where over 100 people were reportedly killed as crowds rushed an aid convoy. Hamas had accused Israel of shooting at civilians as they attempted to get food. Israel has denied this.

On Sunday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Adm Daniel Hagari said: "Our initial review has confirmed that no strike was carried out by the IDF towards the aid convoy."

"The majority of Palestinians were killed or injured as a result of the stampede," Hagari said.

"From the information we gathered from the commanders and forces on the ground, our initial review has indicated that following the warning shots fired to disperse the stampede and after our forces had started retreating, several looters approached our forces and posed an immediate threat to them," he said.

"According to the initial review, the soldiers responded towards several individuals," Hagari added.

According to the IDF, residents surrounded the trucks on Al-Rashid Street and looted the supplies, with many Palestinians being struck by the trucks or crushed by the crowd.

Gaza's Hamas-run Health Ministry reported that 104 people died and 280 were injured in the incident.

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