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US Working to Keep Israel, Hamas Engaged in Gaza Truce Efforts

Washington said it was trying to keep Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas engaged "if only virtually" in Gaza truce efforts as a U.N. agency warned that humanitarian aid stocks in the devastated enclave have hit "the bottom of the barrel."

Hamas said on Friday it would consult with other militant Palestinian factions on its strategy to negotiate a halt to the war triggered by its Oct. 7 onslaught into Israel.

The United Nations warned that aid for Gaza could grind to a halt within days after Israel seized control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, closing the vital route on which the enclave of 2.3 million Palestinians depends.

Talks on a ceasefire and a release of hostages held by Hamas ended in Cairo on Thursday without agreement after Israel said a proposal by Qatari and Egyptian mediators included elements that were unacceptable.

Hamas, which said it had accepted the proposal, said in a statement that Israel's "rejection ... returned things to the first square."

The White House called the end of the talks, which CIA Director William Burns was helping to mediate, "deeply regrettable," but said the U.S. believed the differences were surmountable.

"We are working hard to keep both sides engaged in continuing the discussion, if only virtually," White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.

Despite heavy U.S. pressure, Israel has said it will proceed with an assault on the southern city of Rafah, where more than 1 million displaced people have sought refuge and Israeli forces say Hamas fighters are dug in.

Israeli tanks captured the main road dividing Rafah's eastern and western sections on Friday, effectively encircling the eastern side in an assault that has caused Washington to hold up delivery of some military aid to its ally.

The White House said it was closely watching the Israeli operations "with concern," but they appeared to be localized around the shuttered Rafah crossing and did not reflect a large-scale invasion.

"Once again, we urge the Israelis to open up that crossing to humanitarian assistance immediately," said White House national security spokesman John Kirby.
Israel's plan to assault Rafah has ignited one of the biggest rifts in generations with its main ally, the United States.

In a report to Congress, President Joe Biden's administration on Friday said Israel's use of U.S.-supplied weapons in Gaza may have breached international humanitarian law, stepping up criticism of its key ally.

But the administration also said that due to the chaos of the war it could not verify specific instances where the use of those arms might have violated international law, falling short of making a definitive assessment on the issue.

The French foreign ministry also called on Israel to reopen the Rafah crossing in a statement urging "Israeli authorities to cease this military operation without delay and return to the path of negotiations."

Nearly 35,000 people have died in the war, according to health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza. Some 1,200 people were killed in Israel and 253 taken hostage in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that triggered the conflict, according to Israeli tallies.

US Working to Keep Israel, Hamas Engaged in Gaza Truce Efforts

Hamas, which said it had accepted the proposal, said in a statement that Israel's "rejection ... returned things to the first square."

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Washington said it was trying to keep Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas engaged "if only virtually" in Gaza truce efforts as a U.N. agency warned that humanitarian aid stocks in the devastated enclave have hit "the bottom of the barrel."

Hamas said on Friday it would consult with other militant Palestinian factions on its strategy to negotiate a halt to the war triggered by its Oct. 7 onslaught into Israel.

The United Nations warned that aid for Gaza could grind to a halt within days after Israel seized control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, closing the vital route on which the enclave of 2.3 million Palestinians depends.

Talks on a ceasefire and a release of hostages held by Hamas ended in Cairo on Thursday without agreement after Israel said a proposal by Qatari and Egyptian mediators included elements that were unacceptable.

Hamas, which said it had accepted the proposal, said in a statement that Israel's "rejection ... returned things to the first square."

The White House called the end of the talks, which CIA Director William Burns was helping to mediate, "deeply regrettable," but said the U.S. believed the differences were surmountable.

"We are working hard to keep both sides engaged in continuing the discussion, if only virtually," White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.

Despite heavy U.S. pressure, Israel has said it will proceed with an assault on the southern city of Rafah, where more than 1 million displaced people have sought refuge and Israeli forces say Hamas fighters are dug in.

Israeli tanks captured the main road dividing Rafah's eastern and western sections on Friday, effectively encircling the eastern side in an assault that has caused Washington to hold up delivery of some military aid to its ally.

The White House said it was closely watching the Israeli operations "with concern," but they appeared to be localized around the shuttered Rafah crossing and did not reflect a large-scale invasion.

"Once again, we urge the Israelis to open up that crossing to humanitarian assistance immediately," said White House national security spokesman John Kirby.
Israel's plan to assault Rafah has ignited one of the biggest rifts in generations with its main ally, the United States.

In a report to Congress, President Joe Biden's administration on Friday said Israel's use of U.S.-supplied weapons in Gaza may have breached international humanitarian law, stepping up criticism of its key ally.

But the administration also said that due to the chaos of the war it could not verify specific instances where the use of those arms might have violated international law, falling short of making a definitive assessment on the issue.

The French foreign ministry also called on Israel to reopen the Rafah crossing in a statement urging "Israeli authorities to cease this military operation without delay and return to the path of negotiations."

Nearly 35,000 people have died in the war, according to health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza. Some 1,200 people were killed in Israel and 253 taken hostage in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that triggered the conflict, according to Israeli tallies.

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