Hamas studies ceasefire proposal after deadly Israeli hospital raid in West Bank

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Written By Pinang Driod

© Reuters. Satellite view of the U.S. military outpost known as Tower 22, in Rukban, Rwaished District, Jordan October 12, 2023 in this handout image. Planet Labs PBC/Handout via REUTERS

By Raneen Sawafta and Fadi Shana and Nidal al-Mughrabi

WEST BANK/GAZA/DOHA (Reuters) -Hamas said on Tuesday it would study a new ceasefire proposal in the war with Israel in Gaza, hours after Israeli commandos killed three Palestinian militants in a raid on a hospital in the occupied West Bank.

The raid underscored the risk of the Gaza war spreading to other fronts, while Israeli forces fought new battles with Hamas fighters in the Palestinian enclave.

Clashes in northern Gaza forced more Palestinian residents to flee to safer areas, and southern parts of the coastal enclave were hit by Israeli air strikes.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the group had received a ceasefire proposal put forward after talks in Paris. He said he would study the plan and visit Cairo for discussions on it.

The priority for the Palestinian militant group was to end the Israeli offensive and a full pull-out of Israeli forces from Gaza, he said.

Haniyeh gave no details of the ceasefire proposal but it followed talks in Paris involving CIA Director William Burns, Qatar’s prime minister, the chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service and the head of Egyptian intelligence.

While the West Bank – an area that Palestinians envisage as part of a hoped-for independent state – had seen increased violence even before the outbreak of the Gaza war in October, the hospital raid could fuel a more intense phase of unrest.

CCTV footage appeared to show about a dozen troops, including three in women’s garb and two dressed as Palestinian medical staff, pacing through a corridor in Ibn Sina (BitStamp:) hospital in the city of Jenin with rifles.

Hamas said one of the dead was a member of the militant Islamist group. The allied faction Islamic Jihad said the other two killed were brothers who belonged to it. Ibn Sina said one of the brothers had been receiving treatment for an injury that paralysed his legs.

The Israeli military said one of those killed had a pistol, and that the incident showed militants were using civilian areas and hospitals as shelters and “human shields”. Hamas has previously denied such allegations.

Palestinian sources said the three were not engaged in any fighting. They said one, Basel Al-Ghazzawi, was wheelchair-bound after being wounded in his back this month, and was in the hospital for treatment. His brother Mohammad was staying there to help him, and the third man was a friend, the sources said.

The Israeli undercover squad broke into the hospital, headed to the third floor and killed them using silenced pistols, hospital sources said.

Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila called the incident a war crime and urged the United Nations and international rights groups to put an end to such actions. Israel has previously denied committing war crimes.

The Israeli military identified one of the slain men as Mohammed Jalamneh, 27, from Jenin, who it said had contacts with Hamas headquarters abroad and was planning an attack inspired by the Hamas rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

GAZA DEATH TOLL RISES

Israel unleashed its assault on Gaza in response to that attack in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and 253 taken hostage. More than 100 hostages remain captive in Gaza.

Since then, 26,751 Palestinians have been killed and 65,636 wounded by Israeli actions in Gaza, the Gaza health ministry said. Some 114 Palestinians were killed and 249 injured in the past 24 hours, it said.

Israel says its forces have killed around 9,000 Palestinian combatants in Gaza, and that 221 of its soldiers have been killed in the fighting.

The war has created a humanitarian crisis, with wide areas of Gaza flattened, hundreds of thousands of people left destitute, and supplies of food, water and medicines almost exhausted.

The World Health Organization said the population of Gaza was on the verge of famine.

“It’s getting worse by the day,” WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told a briefing in Geneva.

She said one convoy tried to reach the Nasser Hospital on Tuesday morning but people helped themselves to supplies before they could be distributed.

TANKS IN ACTION

Israel mounted a new push in northern Gaza after earlier reporting successes against Palestinian militants there. The militants’ presence in the area suggests Israel’s campaign to eradicate Hamas is not going to plan.

Hamas appears to have been able to regroup in Gaza City as the war drags on and international concern over the plight of civilians mounts.

Much of Tuesday’s action in Gaza was focused on the Beach refugee camp and near the Al Shifa hospital, residents said. Israeli tanks broke into one shelter site and soldiers rounded up dozens of men.

Residents and health officials also said an Israeli tank opened fire against dozens of Palestinians near Al-Kuwaiti Square on the southern edge of Gaza City where aid trucks unload their shipments, killing two people and wounding others.

The fighting caused more people to flee within Gaza City and to the south towards Deir Al-Balah in the centre. Heavy bombing also hit western and southern suburbs of Gaza.

In the south, Israeli forces kept up pressure in Khan Younis, maintaining their encirclement of the city’s two main hospitals.

Palestinian health officials said at least 10 Palestinians were killed in two separate Israeli air strikes in Khan Younis and in Deir Al-Balah.

The Israeli military said in a summary of overnight operations that action continued in the western part of Khan Younis, where militants were killed and many arms seized. In northern and central Gaza, soldiers killed “numerous” militants, including a rocket-propelled grenade squad.

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