Egyptian officials tout a preliminary plan to end the Israel-Hamas war
Egyptian officials have proposed a preliminary, multiphase plan to end the war in Gaza, according to the Associated Press and other regional news reports.
The proposal, worked out with Qatar, has been presented to Israel, Hamas, the United States and European governments, the AP reported.
No parties have agreed to move forward with the plan just yet, but it comes after one of the deadliest weekends in Gaza after an Israeli airstrike hit a refugee camp in the central part of the strip that killed over 100 Palestinians.
According to Israeli and Egyptian news reports, the plan calls for a weeklong cease-fire. Hamas would release about 40 Israeli hostages held in Gaza in exchange for about 120 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
Another phase would lead to the exchange of the bodies of Israelis and Palestinians killed during the war.
A third phase would lead to a permanent cease-fire and include the exchange of any remaining Israeli hostages for all Palestinian prisoners currently held in Israeli detention. A new governing body of Palestinians would be put in place to oversee the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank. That leadership would oversee the reconstruction of Gaza and possible future elections to create a unified Palestinian government.
The plan is the first to be led by Egypt rather than Qatar, which helped broker the first weeklong cease-fire of this war in November. During that pause in fighting 105 Israeli hostages and 240 Palestinian prisoners were released.
However, according to Reuters, both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group that participated in the deadly Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people, have rejected the Egyptian plan's call for ceding their power in Gaza. The two groups are open to a pause in fighting, release of hostages in exchange for prisoners, and increasing the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, according to the report.
Israeli newspapersreported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Israeli troops in Gaza earlier Monday and said in a meeting with members of the Likud political party that the war "is not close to being over." According to the Israeli military, 17 soldiers were killed in Gaza this past weekend, bringing the total number of Israeli soldiers killed in the war to 156.
More than 20,400 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. International aid groups say the situation across the strip is dire, with winter temperatures settling in as millions of people take shelter in makeshift camps in the south.
Trucks full of water, food and other humanitarian supplies continue to trickle in across in Rafah and Kerem Shalom, but Palestinian officials say it's still not enough.
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