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Hamas to deliver “final response” to latest truce proposal in 2 days: source

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The delegation of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) will return to Egypt’s capital Cairo on Tuesday to deliver the movement’s “final response” to the Egyptian proposal over a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and a prisoner exchange with Israel, a Palestinian source told Xinhua on Sunday.

The source, who preferred not to mention his name, said the Hamas delegation, who departed Cairo on Sunday for consultations with the movement’s leadership in Doha, Qatar, will return with a “final response” to the Egyptian proposal two days later.

According to the source, during the two-day talks in Cairo, the Hamas delegation met with Egyptian security officials and addressed “all issues” that could hinder reaching an agreement on the Gaza ceasefire and prisoner exchange with Israel, confirming that “significant” consensus has been achieved between the delegation and the Egyptian mediators.

The Egyptian proposal consists of three stages, aimed at exchanging Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, taking necessary measures to reach a ceasefire, and restoring sustainable calm.

The first stage would span 40 days and bring out a temporary halt of military operations between the two sides, an exchange of hostages and prisoners, and the return of internally displaced civilians to their areas of residence in Gaza.

It also includes facilitating the entry of sufficient humanitarian aid, relief materials, and fuel into Gaza, as well as the equipment needed to remove rubble, establish camps for the displaced, and rehabilitate and operate hospitals, health centers, and bakeries in the strip.

Earlier in the day, Hamas said in a statement that the current round of negotiations in Cairo had concluded, adding the delegation left Egypt on Sunday night for further consultation with the movement’s leadership.

It affirmed that it takes “a positive and responsible approach with determination” towards reaching an agreement that “meets the national demands of our people, ends the aggression completely, achieves withdrawal of Israeli troops from the entire Gaza Strip, allows for the return of the displaced, intensifies relief efforts, begins reconstruction, and completes the prisoner exchange.”

Also on Sunday, Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that his movement is keen to reach a comprehensive agreement that ends the current conflict in Gaza and ensures a prisoner exchange with Israel.

In the meantime, he accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “inventing constant justifications to continue the aggression, expand the scope of the conflict, and sabotage mediation efforts.”

The Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo on Saturday for talks on the Gaza ceasefire. Qatar, Egypt, and the United States are seeking to reach a deal for a prisoner exchange and a second ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, following the first one that ended last December.

Israel estimated that there were still about 134 Israelis held hostage in Gaza, whereas Hamas announced that 70 of them had been killed in Israeli indiscriminate airstrikes.

Israel holds more than 9,000 Palestinian prisoners in its jails. According to relevant Palestinian organizations, some of these prisoners have died due to worsening conditions since the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict began last October.

However, despite intensive mediation efforts and international calls for a ceasefire, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Sunday that Israel assesses the likelihood of reaching an agreement with Hamas as low, adding the order to launch an onslaught on Rafah, the enclave’s southernmost city, will be given “very soon.”

Source: Xinhua

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