The Latest | Officials say Egypt sending cease-fire delegation to Israel

0
36

Egypt is sending a high-level delegation to Israel in the hope of reaching a cease-fire agreement with Hamas in Gaza, while warning a possible new Israeli offensive focused on the southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt could have catastrophic consequences for regional stability, two officials said Friday.

While in Israel, Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel plans to make clear that Egypt “will not tolerate” Israel’s deployments of troops along Gaza’s borders with Egypt, an Egyptian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the mission.

Earlier Friday, Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group fired anti-tank missiles and artillery shells at an Israeli military convoy in a disputed area along the border, killing an Israeli civilian, the group and Israel’s military.

Hezbollah said that its fighters ambushed the convoy shortly before midnight Thursday, destroying two vehicles. The Israeli military said the ambush wounded an Israeli civilian doing infrastructure work, and that he later died of his wounds.

Low-intensity fighting along the Israel-Lebanon border has repeatedly threatened to boil over as Israel has targeted senior Hezbollah militants in recent months.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced on both sides of the border. On the Israeli side, the cross-border fighting has killed 10 civilians and 12 soldiers, while in Lebanon, more than 350 people have been killed, including 50 civilians and 271 Hezbollah members.

On Thursday, Palestinian hospital officials said Israeli airstrikes on the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip killed at least five people.

More than half of the territory’s population of 2.3 million have sought refuge in Rafah, where Israel has conducted near-daily raids as it prepares for an offensive in the city. The Israeli military has massed dozens of tanks and armored vehicles in the area in what appears to be preparations for an invasion of Rafah.

In central Gaza, four people were killed in Israeli tank shelling.

A ship traveling in the Gulf of Aden came under attack Thursday, officials said, the latest assault likely carried out by Yemen’s Houthi rebels over the Israel-Hamas war.

Meanwhile, a top Hamas political official told The Associated Press that the Islamic militant group is willing to agree to a truce of five years or more with Israel.

The Israel-Hamas war was sparked by the unprecedented Oct. 7 raid into southern Israel in which militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 hostages. Israel says the militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

The war has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, around two-thirds of them children and women.

Currently:

— Ship comes under attack off coast of Yemen as Houthi rebel campaign appears to gain new speed

— Satellite photos show new port construction in Gaza Strip for U.S.-led aid operation

— USC cancels graduation ceremony and dozens are arrested on other campuses as anti-war protests grow

— Chef José Andrés says aid workers killed by Israeli airstrikes represented the ‘best of humanity’

— U.N. report says 282 million people faced acute hunger in 2023, with the worst famine in Gaza

— EU military officer says a frigate has destroyed a drone launched from Yemen’s Houthi-held areas

Here is the latest:

EGYPT SENDS CEASE-FIRE DELEGATION TO ISRAEL

CAIRO — Egypt is sending a high-level delegation to Israel in the hope of reaching a cease-fire agreement with Hamas in Gaza, while warning a possible new Israeli offensive focused on the southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt could have catastrophic consequences for regional stability, two officials said Friday.

Egypt’s top intelligence official, Abbas Kamel, is leading the delegation and plans to discuss a “new vision” on establishing a prolonged cease-fire in Gaza with Israeli officials, an Egyptian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the mission.

Kamel, who heads Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, and the rest of the delegation is expected to arrive in Israel on Friday morning.

Talks will focus at first on a limited exchange of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners, along the return of a significant number of displaced Palestinians to their homes in northern Gaza “with minimum restrictions,” the official said.

The hope is that negotiations will then continue, with the goal of a larger deal to end the war, he said.

Hamas has said it will not back down from its demands for a permanent cease-fire and full withdrawal of Israeli troops, both of which Israel has refused. Israel says it will continue military operations until Hamas is definitively defeated and will retain a security presence in Gaza afterwards.

Israel has also been conducting near-daily raids on Rafah, a city in which more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have sought refuge. The Israeli military has massed dozens of tanks and armored vehicles in the area in what appears to be preparations for an invasion of the city, which lies on the Egyptian border.

While in Israel, Kamel plans to make clear that Egypt “will not tolerate” Israel’s deployments of troops along Gaza’s borders with Egypt, the Egyptian official said.

A Western diplomat in Cairo also said that Egypt has intensified its efforts in recent days to reach a compromise and establish a short cease-fire in Gaza that will help negotiate a longer truce and avert the Rafah offensive.

The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the developments.

— Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed.

HEZBOLLAH AMBUSHES ISRAELI CONVOY, KILLING CIVILIAN

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group fired anti-tank missiles and artillery shells at an Israeli military convoy in a disputed area along the border, killing an Israeli civilian, the group and Israel’s military said Friday.

Hezbollah said that its fighters ambushed the convoy shortly before midnight Thursday, destroying two vehicles.

The Israeli military said the ambush wounded an Israeli civilian doing infrastructure work, and that he later died of his wounds.

The incident took place in a disputed area known in Lebanon as the Kfar Chouba hills and in Israel as Har Dov. The area was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war and is are part of Syria’s Golan Heights that Israel annexed in 1981. The Lebanese government says the area belongs to Lebanon.

Hezbollah and Israel have traded fire on a near-daily basis along the border since the start of the war in Gaza nearly seven months ago. Hezbollah says it is acting in solidarity with the Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, which triggered the war with its deadly Oct. 7 attack into southern Israel.

The low-intensity fighting has repeatedly threatened to boil over as Israel has targeted senior Hezbollah militants in recent months.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced on both sides of the border.

On the Israeli side, the cross-border fighting has killed 10 civilians and 12 soldiers. In Lebanon, more than 350 people have been killed, including 50 civilians and 271 Hezbollah members.

Source: post