Berliner Tageblatt - Scores killed overnight in Gaza, Israeli negotiators in Paris

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Scores killed overnight in Gaza, Israeli negotiators in Paris
Scores killed overnight in Gaza, Israeli negotiators in Paris / Photo: © AFP

Scores killed overnight in Gaza, Israeli negotiators in Paris

More than 100 people were reported killed early Saturday in overnight strikes across Gaza, as Israel's spy chief was in Paris for talks seeking to "unblock" progress towards a truce and the return of hostages held by Palestinian militants.

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The Paris negotiations come after a plan for a post-war Gaza unveiled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew criticism from key ally the United States and was rejected by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas on Friday.

They also come as fears for civilians in the territory are deepening, with the UN warning of the growing risk of famine and its main aid body for Palestinians, UNWRA, saying early Saturday that Gazans were "in extreme peril while the world watches on".

AFP footage showed distraught Gazans queuing for food in the territory's devastated north on Friday and staging a protest decrying their living conditions.

"Look, we are fighting each other over rice," said Jabalia resident Ahmad Atef Safi. "Where are we supposed to go?"

"We have no water, no flour and we are very tired because of hunger. Our backs and eyes hurt because of fire and smoke," fellow Jabalia resident Oum Wajdi Salha told AFP.

"We can't stand on our feet because of hunger and lack of food."

In a Friday night statement on social media platform X, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA said: "Without adequate food and water supplies, as well as health and nutrition services, the elevated risk of famine in #Gaza is projected to increase."

- Post-war plan -

The war started after Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

Hamas militants also took hostages, 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 30 presumed dead, according to Israel.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 29,514 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest count by Gaza's health ministry on Friday.

An Israeli air strike Friday destroyed the Gaza home of well-known Palestinian comedian Mahmoud Zuaiter, killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens more, the health ministry said.

The ministry announced early Saturday that at least 103 more people were killed in strikes overnight, with many others believed to be missing under rubble.

Netanyahu on Thursday night presented his war cabinet with a plan for the post-war Gaza Strip that envisages civil affairs being run by Palestinian officials without links to Hamas.

The plan stipulates that, even after the war, the Israeli army would have "indefinite freedom" to operate throughout Gaza to prevent any resurgence of terror activity, according to the proposals.

It also states that Israel will move ahead with a plan, already under way, to establish a security buffer zone inside Gaza along the territory's border.

The plan drew criticism from the United States, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby saying Friday that Washington had been "consistently clear with our Israeli counterparts" about what was needed in post-war Gaza.

"The Palestinian people should have a voice and a vote... through a revitalised Palestinian Authority," he said, adding the United States also did not "believe in a reduction of the size of Gaza".

Asked about the plan during a visit to Argentina, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he would "reserve judgement" until seeing all the details, but that Washington was against any "reoccupation" of Gaza after the war.

Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan dismissed Netanyahu's plan as unworkable.

"When it comes to the day after in the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu is presenting ideas which he knows fully well will never succeed," Hamdan told reporters in Beirut.

- Paris delegation -

Meanwhile, an Israeli delegation led by David Barnea, head of the Mossad intelligence agency, was in Paris on Saturday for a fresh push towards a deal to return the remaining hostages.

Barnea will be joined by his counterpart at the domestic Shin Bet security agency, Ronen Bar, Israeli media reported.

The United States, Egypt and Qatar have all been deeply involved in past negotiations aimed at securing a truce and prisoner-hostage exchanges.

Pressure has been mounting on Netanyahu's government to negotiate a ceasefire and secure the hostages' release after more than four months of war, with a group representing the captives' families planning what it billed as a "huge rally" to coincide with the Paris talks on Saturday night to demand swifter action.

The United States, Egypt and Qatar have all been deeply involved in past negotiations aimed at securing a truce and prisoner-hostage exchanges.

White House envoy Brett McGurk held talks this week with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, after speaking to other mediators in Cairo who had met Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh.

A Hamas source said the new plan proposes a six-week pause in the conflict and the release of between 200 and 300 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 35 to 40 hostages being held by Hamas.

Barnea and his US counterpart from the CIA helped broker a week-long truce in November that saw the release of 80 Israeli hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

US National Security Council spokesman Kirby had told journalists earlier that so far the discussions were "going well", while Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz spoke of "the first signs that indicate the possibility of progress".

burs-phy-smw/mtp

R.Adler--BTB