Gaza ceasefire talks end in Cairo with ‘no substantial answer or solution’

Hamas says negotiations to continue next week even as Israel ‘thwarts’ deal to secure 40-day truce before Ramadan.

A displaced Palestinian woman carries her belongings in Khan Younis, March 6, 2024. [AFP)]
A displaced Palestinian woman carries her belongings in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip [AFP]

Hamas says its delegation has left Egypt but talks on a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip will continue next week until an agreement is reached with Israel, whom the Palestinian group says has “thwarted” mediators’ attempts to broker a deal before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“Hamas’s delegation left Cairo this morning for consultation with the leadership of the movement, with negotiations and efforts continuing to stop the aggression, return the displaced and bring in relief aid to our people,” a Hamas statement said on Thursday.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel had been “thwarting” efforts to conclude a ceasefire mediated by Qatar and Egypt during four days of talks in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Abu Zuhri said Israel was rejecting Hamas’s demands to end its offensive in the enclave, withdraw its forces, and ensure freedom of entry for aid and the return of displaced people.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Israel did not send a delegation to these recent negotiations, during which representatives from Hamas, Qatar and Egypt tried this week to secure a 40-day ceasefire in time for Ramadan, which begins early next week.

The agreement would see captives being held by Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza be exchanged for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Hamdah Salhut said: “This round of talks has concluded with no substantial answer or solution for [a] ceasefire or pause in the fighting.”

“It is worth mentioning that the Israelis themselves chose not to send their own delegation to Cairo for this round of talks because they were hoping to receive a list of names of all of the captives who are alive and currently being held in Gaza,” Salhut said.

Hamas said meeting this Israeli demand is impossible without a ceasefire because captives are scattered across the warzone. According to Salhut, there were reports indicating there would be another round of talks next week.

At least 1,139 people were killed and about 250 captives were taken in Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel on October 7. More than 100 captives were released during a weeklong ceasefire in November.


Hamas pledged to continue the negotiations, but officials in the Palestinian armed group said a ceasefire must be in place before captives are freed, Israeli forces must leave Gaza and all Gaza residents must be able to return to the homes they have fled.

Despite earlier comments that the negotiations were at an impasse, the United States said on Wednesday that a truce was still possible.

“We continue to believe that obstacles are not insurmountable and a deal can be reached, … so we’re going to continue to push for one,” US Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller said in Washington, DC.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza said the number of Palestinians confirmed killed in Israel’s war has surpassed 30,800. It reported 83 deaths within the latest 24-hour reporting period alone, and witnesses said Israeli bombardments continued in Khan Younis and Rafah in southern Gaza as well as in areas in central part of the strip.

Reporting from Rafah, Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud said on Thursday that Israel has returned 47 bodies that had been taken from a graveyard near Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis when its military stormed the compound last month.

The decomposed remains were buried in Tal as-Sultan in the western part of Rafah.

“This is a tragedy for the people who have already lost so much, and the desecration of graveyards and bodies is a violation under international law,” Mahmoud reported.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies