Israel asks Hamas to 'soften stance' amid deadlocked talks for Gaza ceasefire

Jerusalem, Feb 22 (IANS): Israel will send a delegation for Gaza ceasefire talks in Cairo only after it receives more indications that Hamas is willing to "soften its stance," an Israeli government official told the media.

The official, who requested anonymity, said on Wednesday that Israel has yet to decide on sending a delegation for talks mediated by Qatar and Egypt. These discussions involve a potential ceasefire deal, which would require the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

"Hamas hasn't yet shown flexibility on the issue of the number of Palestinian prisoners who would be released" under a deal, the official added as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

A meeting of US, Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian negotiators on a hostage release deal ended in Cairo earlier in February without a breakthrough.

More than 200 people in Israel were taken hostage on October 7, 2023, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people. To retaliate the movement's deadly attack, Israel launched a large-scale offensive in the Gaza Strip that has so far killed more than 29,000 Palestinians, according to figures released by both sides.

In November last year, Israel and Hamas conducted a hostage-for-prisoner swap under a fragile truce.




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Title: Israel asks Hamas to 'soften stance' amid deadlocked talks for Gaza ceasefire

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