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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel-Hamas war: Fresh cease-fire talks in Egypt

Published March 3, 2024last updated March 3, 2024

Hamas and international mediators are in Cairo discussing a proposed Gaza truce and a hostage release deal. Meanwhile, Israel's military has found most Gaza aid convoy deaths happened in the stampede.

Palestinians look at the destruction after an apparent Israeli strike on a building in Rafah
Fighting in Gaza continues, with efforts to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas underway in EgyptImage: Hatem Ali/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Hamas, Qatari, US and Egyptian envoys in Cairo for cease-fire talks
  • IDF says most Palestinians killed near aid trucks died in stampede
  • Gaza authorities report 90 deaths in previous day

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Skip next section Italian warship downs drone in Red Sea
March 3, 2024

Italian warship downs drone in Red Sea

An Italian navy destroyer sent to protect commercial ships in the Red Sea has shot down a drone heading its way, according to Italy's Defense Ministry.

"The drone, with similar characteristics to those already used in previous attacks, was about 6 km (3.73 miles) from the Italian ship, flying toward it," said the ministry statement.

Yemen's Houthi militia has carried out a number of attacks on ships in the Red Sea since the war in Gaza began in October. The Iran-backed group claims to target vessels linked to Israel in a show of solidarity with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

However, many of the ships that have come under fire have had no connection to Israel.

Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said the Houthi attacks were part of a strategy of hybrid warfare against some countries.

"The terrorist attacks by the Houthis are a serious violation of international law and an attack on the safety of maritime traffic, on which our economy depends," he said.

The Red Sea is one of the most important trade routes between Europe and Asia, and hundreds of commercial ships use it daily. Drone and missile attacks on ships have forced companies to divert their vessels to a longer route around southern Africa.

Red Sea ship attacked by Houthis sinks

Skip next section Israel to revise Eurovision song alluding to Hamas attack
March 3, 2024

Israel to revise Eurovision song alluding to Hamas attack

Israel has agreed to change the lyrics to its entry in this year's Eurovision Song Contest, heading off a dispute with organizers over political content.

The song "October Rain," performed by Russian-Israeli singer Eden Golan, reportedly contains references to the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.

Israeli public broadcaster Kan said Sunday that Israeli President Isaac Herzog had called for "necessary adjustments" that would ensure Israel's inclusion in the event, which it has won four times.

Eurovision organizers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), have claimed the competition is non-political, and contestants can be disqualified if they breach that rule.

The EBU said previously it was in the process of scrutinizing Israel's lyrics and that a final decision had yet to be taken.

Separately, the EBU has faced calls to exclude Israel from the competition over the ongoing war in Gaza — in the same way Russia was barred from participating in the live event after invading Ukraine in February 2022.

The EBU, however, said last month it would not prevent Israel from participating on those grounds.

Eurovision is set to take place in the Swedish city of Malmo in May.

Skip next section Pope Francis calls for end to Israel-Hamas war
March 3, 2024

Pope Francis calls for end to Israel-Hamas war

Pope Francis on Sunday appealed for an end to the conflict in Gaza, telling a crowd of faithful at the Vatican that he supports an "immediate cease-fire" and hostage release.

"Do you really think you can build a better world in this way? Do you really think you will achieve peace? Enough please! Let us all say, 'Enough, please! Stop!" said the pontiff, the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

"Each day I carry in my heart with pain the suffering of the populations in Palestine and Israel due to the ongoing hostilities, thousands of dead, injured, displaced," he added.

Skip next section Truce talks to resume in Egypt
March 3, 2024

Truce talks to resume in Egypt

A delegation from the Hamas militant group has reportedly arrived in Cairo for "a new round of negotiations" toward a truce in Gaza.

Qatar, Egypt and the United States have been trying to broker a new cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel in Gaza by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan next week, but a series of failed talks have dampened hopes.

The negotiators are trying to secure a six-week pause that would see the release of more Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, and greater aid deliveries.

A US administration official said Saturday that Israel had "more or less accepted" the deal. Israel has not commented publicly on the truce plan or whether it would attend the Cairo talks.

A Hamas representative told the AFP news agency if Israel were to meet its demands, it would "pave the way for an agreement within the next 24-48 hours."

Hamas carried out terror attacks on Israel on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of around 1,200 people and roughly 250 people being taken hostage, around half of whom have not been released.

Health authorities in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip say more than 30,000 people have been killed in Israel's retaliatory offensive in Gaza.

Skip next section Israeli military review of convoy deaths finds most killed in stampede
March 3, 2024

Israeli military review of convoy deaths finds most killed in stampede

Israel's military said on Sunday that its preliminary review of civilian deaths at a Gaza aid convoy showed its forces did not strike the convoy and that most Palestinians died in a stampede.

"The IDF has concluded an initial review of the unfortunate incident where Gazan civilians were trampled to death and injured as they charged to the aid convoy," Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said.

At least 116 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more injured in the incident that Hamas and eyewitnesses blamed on Israeli gunfire.

A United Nations team that visited a Gaza City hospital reported seeing "a large number" of gunshot wounds among Palestinians in the aftermath of the incident.

The IDF said it gathered information from commanders and soldiers in the field and determined that no strike was carried out toward the aid convoy.

"Following the warning shots fired to disperse the stampede and after our forces had started retreating, several looters approached our forces and posed an immediate threat to them. According to the initial review, the soldiers responded toward several individuals," Hagari said.

He added that the inquiry was ongoing. 

"The incident will be examined in the fact finding and assessment mechanism, an independent, professional and expert body. For the sake of transparency we will share updates as our examination develops hopefully in the coming days," Hagari said. 

Several foreign leaders and the UN have called for an external investigation into the incident. 

Skip next section 90 dead in Gaza in last day — Health Ministry
March 3, 2024

90 dead in Gaza in last day — Health Ministry

People mourn as they receive the dead bodies of victims of an Israeli strike on March 3, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza
People mourn in Rafah in GazaImage: Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

Health authorities in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip said the Palestinian death toll from the war has climbed to 30,410.
They said 90 people were killed over the last 24 hours.

The United Nations and multiple humanitarian organizations consider the death toll and casualty numbers provided by Gaza's Health Ministry to be broadly reliable.

The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures.

kb/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)