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DOHA: Israel and Hamas are not close to a deal to halt the fighting in Gaza and free hostages, mediator Qatar said on Tuesday, warning that the situation remained “very complicated”.

Despite weeks of talks involving US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on Monday without the start of a truce and hostage exchange they had aimed for.

“We are not near a deal, meaning that we are not seeing both sides converging on language that can resolve the current disagreement over the implementation of a deal,” said foreign ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari.

All parties were “continuing to work in the negotiations to reach a deal hopefully within the confines of Ramadan”, Ansari told a news conference. But he added that he could not “offer any timeline” on an agreement while the conflict remained “very complicated on the ground”.

The war started with the October 7 Hamas attack that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on Israeli official figures.

The militants also took around 250 hostages, dozens of whom were released during a week-long truce in November. Israel believes 99 hostages remain alive in Gaza, along with the bodies of 31.

Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive have killed 31,112 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Qatar previously mediated a one-week break in fighting in late November that led to the release of scores of Israeli and foreign hostages, as well as aid entering the besieged Palestinian territory.

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Sabir Hussain Mar 13, 2024 10:11am
I am feeling bad
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