Israel-Hamas truce talks stall as war in Gaza grinds on

A second day of talks concluded with no breakthrough between the warring sides.

March 5, 2024, 11:29 AM

LONDON -- A second straight day of talks aimed at negotiating a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel concluded in Egypt on Tuesday with no breakthrough, a Hamas official told ABC News.

Israel did not send a delegation to Cairo for the latest round of negotiations and has declined to comment publicly on them. Representatives from Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist militant group and political organization that governs the neighboring Gaza Strip, attended the talks with mediators on Monday and Tuesday.

Egyptian state media, citing senior Egyptian officials, reported Tuesday that the negotiations are "facing hurdles" but will continue in Cairo for a third day. Another source confirmed that Hamas' delegation remains in Cairo for further talks on Wednesday, according to Egyptian state media.

The United States, one of Israel's closest allies, has been mediating the talks between the warring sides, along with Egypt and Qatar. In recent days, the U.S. government has been publicly pressuring Hamas to accept Israel's proposed deal that would implement a temporary cease-fire and reunite Israeli hostages with their families.

But with just five days before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the war between Hamas and Israel is showing no signs of letting up soon. A brief truce in late November allowed for the release of more than 100 Israeli hostages from Gaza in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel. Last week, an Israeli political official with knowledge of the negotiations told ABC News that progress toward reaching another cease-fire and hostage deal is slow.

The ongoing conflict is the latest outbreak of war between the two sides and now the deadliest since Israel's founding in 1948. The war began when Hamas, which the U.S. and other countries have designated a terrorist organization, carried out an unprecedented incursion from Gaza into southern Israel by air, land and sea on Oct. 7, 2023, killing more than 1,200 people and taking over 200 others hostage, according to Israeli authorities.

There are about 134 hostages still believed to be in captivity in Gaza, 130 of them related to the current war and four related to the 2014 conflict, according to the Israeli Prime Minister's Office and Israel Defense Forces. Nineteen women and two children are believed to be among hostages, and of the 134, at least 32 are believed to be dead, the IDF and prime minister's office say.

In response to the Oct. 7 attack, the Israeli military has carried out wide-scale airstrikes on Gaza and a subsequent ground invasion, killing more than 30,000 people and injuring over 72,000 others, including thousands of women, children and elderly people, according to Gaza's Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.

Gaza, a 140-square-mile territory, is home to more than 2 million Palestinians who have lived under an indefinite blockade imposed by Israel and supported by Egypt since Hamas won legislative elections in 2007. Human rights organizations have long described the densely populated strip as the world's largest open-air prison, due to Israel's generalized ban on travel for Gaza residents, as well as Egypt's restrictive policies at its shared border. Restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza have tightened since the Oct. 7 terror attack, with Israel saying it must limit Hamas' access to weapons.

Meanwhile, the United Nations and other organizations are warning that Gaza is on the brink of famine due to the limited amount of food and humanitarian aid entering the coastal enclave, particularly in the north, which has been isolated by the Israeli military and largely cut off from aid for weeks, according to the U.N. At least 10 children are known to have starved to death in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the World Health Organization, which cited official hospital records and cautioned that the actual number is expected to be much higher.

The U.S. and Jordan carried out a second joint airdrop of food over northern Gaza on Tuesday, delivering more than 36,800 rations of ready-to-eat meals in "an area of great need, allowing for civilian access to the critical aid." The first U.S.-Jordanian airdrop, conducted on Saturday, contained 38,000 meals, according to the U.S. Central Command.

ABC News' Ayat Al-Tawy, Nasser Atta, Luis Martinez and Jordana Miller contributed to this report.

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