US not expecting policy change from Iran under new president

Israeli forces push deeper into Gaza City as Hamas warns escalation threatens truce talks

DEIR AL-BALAH: Israeli forces advanced deeper into Gaza’s biggest city in pursuit of militants who have regrouped there, sending thousands of Palestinians fleeing on Monday from an area devastated in the first weeks of a nine-month war.
Hamas has warned that the latest airstrikes and displacement in Gaza City could lead to the collapse of long-running ceasefire talks and the release of hostages after the two sides appeared to have narrowed their differences in recent days.
Israeli troops again battled militants in areas the military said had been largely cleared months ago in northern Gaza. The army ordered evacuations before the airstrikes, but Palestinians said they did not feel safe anywhere. Most of the 2.3 million inhabitants have been displaced, often multiple times. Hundreds of thousands of people are crammed into hot tent camps.
Israel ordered the evacuation of northern Gaza in the first weeks of the war, preventing most people from returning. But hundreds of thousands of Palestinians remain, living in shelters or in the alleys of houses.
“We fled in the dark amid heavy attacks,” said Sayeda Abdel-Baki, a mother of three who was sheltering with relatives in the Daraj neighborhood. “This is my fifth displacement.
Residents reported artillery and tank fire, as well as airstrikes. Gaza’s health ministry, with limited access to the north, did not immediately report casualties.
Israel issued additional evacuation orders for areas in other neighborhoods of central Gaza City. The army said it had intelligence showing that militants from Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group were in the area and urged residents to head south to the city of Deir Al-Balah.
Israel accuses Hamas and other militants of hiding among civilians. In Shijaiyah, a neighborhood of Gaza City that has seen weeks of fighting, the army said troops raided and destroyed schools and a clinic that had been turned into militant compounds.
The war decimated large parts of the urban landscape and created a humanitarian disaster.
Obstacles to an agreement
Israel and Hamas appear to be the closest they have come in months to a cease-fire deal that would suspend fighting in exchange for the release of dozens of hostages taken by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war.
CIA Director William Burns returned to the region on Monday for talks in Cairo, according to Egypt’s state-run Qahera TV, which is close to the security services. An Israeli delegation was also heading to the Egyptian capital, Israeli media reported.
But obstacles remain after Hamas agreed to back down on its key demand that Israel commit to ending the war as part of any deal. A key part of that shift, officials told The Associated Press, is the scale of destruction caused by Israel’s ongoing offensive.
Hamas still wants mediators to guarantee that the talks will end in a permanent ceasefire, according to two officials with knowledge of the talks. The current draft says the mediators – the United States, Qatar and Egypt – will “do their utmost” to ensure the talks lead to an agreement to end the war.
Israel has rejected any deal that would force it to end the war with Hamas intact – a condition reiterated by Netanyahu on Sunday.
Hamas said on Monday it was “offering flexibility and positivity” to facilitate a deal, accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “putting more obstacles in the way of negotiations”.
Meanwhile, Hamas’ top political leader Ismail Haniyeh warned mediators of “catastrophic consequences” if Israel continued its operations in Gaza City, saying Netanyahu and the military would bear “full responsibility” for the failure of the talks, the group said in a statement. subsequent statement.
Both officials said there is also an impasse over whether Hamas can choose high-profile prisoners held by Israel to release in exchange for hostages. Some prisoners have been convicted of killing Israelis, and Israel does not want Hamas to determine who is released. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss sensitive media interviews.
Bombing keeps attackers away from bodies
Inside Gaza, residents saw no end to their suffering.
Maha Mahfouz fled her home with her two children and many neighbors in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City. She said their area was not included in the latest evacuation orders, but “we are panicking because the bombing and shooting are very close to us.”
Fadel Naeem, director of Al-Ahli Hospital, said patients fled the facility even though no evacuation order had been issued in the area. He said those in critical condition were evacuated to other hospitals in northern Gaza.
Marwan Al-Sultan, director of the Indonesian hospital, said it had received 80 patients and injured people from Al-Ahli, who were crowded “at every corner”.
“Many cases require urgent surgeries. Many cases suffer from direct gunshots to the head and require intensive care. Fuel and medical supplies are running low,” he said in a text message. He said the hospital also received 16 bodies of people killed in the Israeli invasion, half of them women and children.
Mahmoud Bassal, a spokesman for the Hamas-ruled Civil Defense, said the neighborhoods of Tufah, Daraj and Shijaiyah had become inaccessible due to Israeli bombardment. He said in a voice message that the army was shelling houses in the Gaza City area of ​​the Jaffa area and those who intervened “saw people lying on the ground and could not retrieve them”.
The war has killed more than 38,000 people in Gaza, according to the health ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians.
According to Israeli authorities, 1,200 people, most of them civilians, were killed in a cross-border airstrike by Hamas on October 7 in southern Israel. Militants took about 250 people hostage. About 120 are still in captivity, with about a third said to be dead.

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