Middle East crisis live: draft truce reportedly includes exchange of 40 Israeli hostages for 400 Palestinian prisoners

middle east crisis live: draft truce reportedly includes exchange of 40 israeli hostages for 400 palestinian prisoners

Displaced Palestinians who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, shelter at a tent camp in Rafah, southern Gaza strip.

LIVE – Updated at 07:59

Details of draft truce emerged in reports hours after US president Joe Biden said ‘my hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire’.

 

07:59

Israel’s military has issued its daily operational briefing, in which it claims to have “located a weapons manufacturing facility, rocket launchers, and systems used by Hamas in combat with the IDF” in Zaytun.

The briefing also claims that IDF forces “eliminated several terrorists” in central Gaza and “destroyed dozens of strategic sites belonging to Hamas”.

Israel also claims to have “apprehended a number of terrorists who tried to flee under the cover of the civilian population” and to have “eliminated a number of terrorists at close range, including terrorist operatives who were identified observing the troops.”

It says Israeli ground forces continue to operate in Khan Younis, and are working to “to secure areas adjacent to the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip”.

The claims have not been independently verified.

 

07:32

Hani Mahmoud is in Rafah for Al Jazeera, and in his latest report for the news network he says:

The situation in Khan Younis remains terrible and is only worsening with each passing day. While the Israeli military stated that it pulled out from Nasser hospital, snipers are still taking positions in surrounding buildings and shooting at every moving object. They are also blocking the entry of relief convoys that were bringing in water, food supplies and fuel for the power generators to get the hospital back on track. Conditions continue to worsen with each passing day despite talks about a ceasefire.

 

07:26

Reuters reports Hezbollah said on Tuesday it had launched a “large volley of rockets” at an Israeli aerial surveillance base in response to Monday’s Baalbek attack.

Details of draft Israel-Gaza ceasefire emerge

07:24

The US president, Joe Biden, says Israel has agreed to stop its military activities in Gaza for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas studies a draft proposal for a truce.

Reuters reports that a senior source close to the talks in Paris says the draft includes a Palestinian prisoner-Israeli hostage exchange at a ratio of 10 to one.

The draft also reportedly states Hamas would free 40 Israeli hostages including women, children under 19, elderly over 50 and the sick, while Israel would release about 400 Palestinian prisoners and will not re-arrest them, the source told Reuters.

The draft proposal would also allow hospitals and bakeries in Gaza to be repaired and 500 aid trucks to enter the battered enclave every day, says Reuters.

Ramadan is expected to begin on the evening of 10 March and end on the evening of 9 April.

Biden said during an appearance on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers”:

Ramadan is coming up, and there’s been an agreement by the Israelis that they would not engage in activities during Ramadan, as well, in order to give us time to get all the hostages out.

Biden, whose remarks were recorded on Monday and broadcast on Tuesday, said there was an agreement in principle for a ceasefire between the two sides while hostages were released. Asked when he thought a ceasefire could begin, Biden said “Well I hope by the beginning of the weekend. The end of the weekend. My national security adviser tells me that we’re close. We’re close. We’re not done yet. My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani – whose country hosts Hamas leaders and helped broker a one-week truce in November – is due in Paris Tuesday, according to the French presidency.

The Qatari ruler is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron at 4 pm (1500 GMT) at the Élysée Palace, followed by a state dinner, the president’s office said.

According to the official Qatar news agency, sheikh Tamim previously met Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Doha and discussed efforts “aimed at reaching an immediate and permanent ceasefire agreement”.

Welcome and opening summary

07:23

It has just gone 9am in Gaza and Tel Aviv, and 8am in Paris, welcome to our latest Guardian live blog on the Middle East crisis. I’m Martin Belam and I’ll be with you for the next while.

Hamas has received a draft ceasefire deal from Gaza truce talks in Paris which includes a 40-day pause in all military operations and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages at a ratio of 10 to one, a senior source close to the talks told the Reuters news agency.

Hours earlier, the US president, Joe Biden, said it was his hope there would be a deal by Monday, adding that “we’re close, we’re not done yet”, reports Agence France-Press

More on that in a moment but first, here’s a summary of the latest developments:

    Joe Biden has said he believes a new ceasefire between Israel and Hamas could take effect by the start of next week. The US president, during a visit to New York on Monday, was asked by reporters about the prospects of a ceasefire. “My national security adviser tells me that we’re close. We’re close. We’re not done yet,” Biden said. “My hope is by next Monday, we’ll have a ceasefire.”

    An active member of the US air force has died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington over the weekend in protest of Israel’s war in Gaza, the Agence France-Presse news agency quoted the Pentagon as saying.

    Israeli officials headed on Monday to Qatar, where Hamas has its political office, to work on terms of a Gaza truce and hostage release deal, a source told Reuters. The source said the Israeli working delegation, made up of staff from the military and the Mossad spy agency, was tasked with creating an operational centre to support negotiations.

    Israel mounted airstrikes west of the Lebanese city of Baalbek on Monday, killing at least two Hezbollah members, sources in Lebanon told Reuters. The Israeli military said it was striking Hezbollah targets deep inside Lebanon but provided no further details. Hezbollah said earlier on Monday it had shot down an Israeli Hermes 450 drone over Lebanese territory using a surface-to-air missile, the second time it has announced a downing of this type of unmanned aerial vehicle.

    Israel’s military “presented the war cabinet with a plan for evacuating the population from areas of fighting in the Gaza Strip, and with the upcoming operational plan,” a statement from Benjamin Netayahu’s office said. Israel has threatened to launch a full-blown attack on Rafah, the last city at Gaza’s southern edge, despite international pleas – including from its main ally Washington – for restraint. Netanyahu, who has promised “total victory”, said an operation is necessary to root out four battalions of Hamas fighters based there.

    The Israeli government has failed to comply with an order by the UN’s top court to provide urgently needed aid to desperate people in the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch said. “The Israeli government is starving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, putting them in even more peril than before the World Court’s binding order,” Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said. “The Israeli government has simply ignored the court’s ruling, and in some ways even intensified its repression, including further blocking life-saving aid.”

    Reuters is reporting that three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in clashes in the occupied West Bank early on Tuesday. At least 400 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers and settlers in the occupied West Bank since the 7 October attack on Israel by Hamas.

    At least 29,782 Palestinians have been killed and 70,043 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October, the Gaza health ministry said. In the past 24 hours, 90 Palestinians were killed and 164 injured in Israeli strikes, the ministry said.

    The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has criticised the UN security council for failing to adequately respond to Israel’s war in Gaza and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which he said had “perhaps fatally” undermined its authority. He also said that a full-scale Israeli assault in Rafah would have devastating consequences. “An all-out Israeli offensive on the city would not only be terrifying for more than a million Palestinian civilians sheltering there, it would put the final nail in the coffin of our aid programmes,” the UN chief said in a speech.

    The US military said on Monday it had destroyed three unmanned surface vessels and two anti-ship cruise missiles that were prepared to launch towards the Red Sea from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. The US military’s central command also said on X, that it destroyed an aerial drone that was over the Red Sea. All the weapons “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the US Navy ships in the region,” it said.

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