Gaza war: Hamas leader’s Cairo visit raises hope for new hostage deal

Sixth of young children in north Gaza acutely malnourished: UN chief

Israel Gaza hostage deal A Palestinian looks at the destruction after an Israeli strike on residential buildings in Rafah, Gaza Strip | AP

Even as ‘promising’ hostage deal is close by, Israel does not seem to be backing out from the Rafah offensive on Gaza border. According to residents the bombing was the heaviest since an Israeli raid on the city ten days ago that freed two hostages.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary general Antonio Guterres said that in north Gaza, one in six children under 2-years-old is acutely malnourished.

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz on Wednesday had said there were "promising early signs of progress" on a new deal to release hostages from Gaza amid regional talks for ceasefire in the region.

According to The Times of Israel, the White House special envoy Brett McGurk will meet Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi in Israel this afternoon to discuss potential hostage talks and Netanyahu’s proposed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation in Rafah.

"There are ongoing attempts to promote a new hostage deal and there are promising early signs of possible progress," Gantz said in a televised press briefing. "We will not stop looking for a way and we will not miss any opportunity to bring our girls and boys home," he added.

Meanwhile, Guterres said that in north Gaza, one in six children under 2-years-old is acutely malnourished.

“In north Gaza, 1 in 6 children under 2 years old is acutely malnourished...An immediate humanitarian ceasefire is the only way to scale up the delivery of aid to those who need it most," he wrote on X.

As many as 29,410 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes since October 7 attacks, as per the health ministry. At least 97 people were confirmed killed

and 130 wounded in the last 24 hours of Israeli attacks.

Yemen's Houthi on Thursday said they have banned Israeli-linked and US, UK-flagged vessels from the Red Sea.

"Ships that are wholly or partially owned by Israeli individuals or entities and Israel-flagged vessels are banned from the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea," said statements from an agency controlled by Yemen’s Houthi group.

Israel has threatened to launch a full-blown attack on Rafah if Hamas does not release the hostages. Two weeks ago, talks to reach ceasefire had failed after Netanyahu rejected a four-and-a-half month truce.

The arrival of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Cairo this week for his first publicly announced visit since December was the strongest sign for weeks that negotiations have not been abandoned. Haniyeh has met Egyptian officials involved in mediating. 


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