Palestinians hope Blinken visit can deliver Gaza truce before Rafah assault

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri dismissed Netanyahu as “playing the game of making delusional victories” in the face of continued resistance.

The ceasefire proposal, as described by sources close to the talks, envisions a truce of at least 40 days when militants would free civilians among remaining hostages they are holding, followed by later phases to hand over soldiers and bodies.

The only truce so far lasted a week in November.

“We want the war to end and we want to go back home, this is all that we want at this stage,” said Mr Yamen Hamad, 35, a father of four reached by messaging app at a UN school in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. The area is one of the few where Israeli tanks have yet to advance, and is jammed with tens of thousands of displaced families.

“All we do is listen to the news through small radios and view the internet looking for hope. We hope that Blinken will tell Netanyahu enough is enough, and we hope our factions decide in the best interest of our people.”

Fighting in Khan Younis, Gaza City

Israeli tanks have been advancing for two weeks in Khan Younis. Fighting has also resurged in Gaza City in the north of the strip, in areas Israel said it subdued in the war’s first two months.

The Israeli military said on Feb 5 its forces had killed dozens of Palestinian fighters in northern, central and southern Gaza over the last 24 hours.

As night fell, Khan Younis residents said Israeli tanks had stepped up shelling around Nasser Hospital, the largest functioning medical facility in the south, setting some houses ablaze.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said some 8,000 displaced people had been evacuated from its headquarters in Khan Younis and Al-Amal hospital after two weeks surrounded by Israeli troops.

At the hospital, only 40 elderly individuals, around 80 patients and 100 administrative and medical staff remained.

Palestinians described heavy fighting in Gaza City, particularly in areas close to the Mediterranean shore under bombardment from Israeli warships. UNRWA, the UN aid agency for Palestinians, said a food convoy headed there had come under fire although nobody was hurt.

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