Ceasefire talks in Paris amid Gaza airstrikes

A Palestinian man performs Friday prayers at the ruins of a mosque destroyed in Israeli strikes, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip February 23, 2024. REUTERS

Negotiations for a ceasefire in Gaza are underway in Paris, marking a significant push to end the conflict in the Palestinian enclave and secure the release of Israeli and foreign hostages.

According to Reuters, the talks began with Israel’s Mossad intelligence service chief meeting separately with representatives from Qatar, Egypt, and the United States.

A source, unable to be identified, expressed cautious optimism about progressing toward serious negotiations. Egypt’s Al Qahera TV News confirmed the commencement of talks.

A Hamas official stated that after concluding ceasefire discussions in Cairo, the group is awaiting outcomes from the ongoing Paris talks. Mediators are intensifying efforts to establish a ceasefire in Gaza, especially in Rafah city, where over a million displaced individuals are sheltering.

Israel has warned of an imminent attack on Rafah if no truce is reached soon, prompting Washington to urge its ally to reconsider, citing potential civilian casualties. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met Egyptian mediators in Cairo this week, discussing a truce.

Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel is also in Paris for the talks, following discussions with Haniyeh. Israel has yet to comment publicly on the Paris negotiations, which are expected to continue throughout the weekend.

The unidentified Hamas official mentioned no new proposals were presented in Cairo, but the group is waiting to hear results from the Paris talks. Israel initiated attacks on Gaza City on Oct. 7, 2023, following a Hamas-led attack on Israel.