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

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-22 01:00

Smoke rises over Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, as seen from Israel on Feb 21. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM -- 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 Xinhua on Wednesday.

The official, who requires anonymity, said 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 said.

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 Oct 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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