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Hamas rejects Gaza truce proposal, Israel says

Israeli soldiers work on tanks at a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, April 11, 2024.
Israeli soldiers work on tanks at a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, April 11, 2024.

Hamas has rejected the latest Gaza truce proposal, according to a statement by the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office Sunday.

Rejection of the proposal "proves that [Hamas Gaza chief Yahya] Sinwar does not want a humanitarian deal and the return of the hostages, is continuing to exploit the tension with Iran, and is striving to unite the sectors and achieve a general escalation in the region," the statement said.

Israel, it said, will continue to pursue its Gaza war objectives "with full force" and will "leave no stone unturned to return the 133 hostages from Gaza forthwith."

Hamas had said Saturday it had submitted its response to Egyptian and Qatari mediators on a proposed truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip, insisting on a "permanent cease-fire."

Truce talks started April 7 in Cairo but have so far brought no breakthrough on a plan presented by U.S., Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

In a statement, the U.S. terror-designated group reaffirmed its demands for a mediated truce, including "a permanent cease-fire, the withdrawal of the occupation army from the entire Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced to their areas and places of residence, intensification of the entry of relief and aid, and the start of reconstruction."

Hamas said it was also ready "to conclude a serious and real prisoner exchange deal between the two parties."

Netanyahu has opposed a permanent cease-fire and has vowed to send ground troops into Rafah, ignoring an international outcry against it, including from the United States.

Netanyahu's office said Saturday "the only obstacle to obtaining the release of the abductees is Hamas and not any factor on the Israeli side."

Hamas is believed to be holding roughly 100 hostages, as well as the remains of about 30 people who either died in captivity or were killed in the October 7, terror attack which triggered the war.

West Bank

An Israeli teen who disappeared Friday has been found dead in the occupied West Bank where Israeli authorities said he was killed in a "terrorist attack."

"The heinous murder of the boy ... is a serious crime,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

The body of the 14-year-old boy was spotted by a drone. He was found near the Malachei Shalom outpost near the city of Ramallah where he had originally disappeared while herding sheep.

According to Israeli media, the teen was last seen leaving the settler outpost early Friday to tend to the livestock nearby.

The sheep returned to the outpost hours later without him, reports said.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the teen's killing.

Binyamin Achimair’s disappearance sparked a wide search and intensified violence by Israeli settlers on Palestinian villages.

Dozens of Israeli settlers set fire Saturday to 12 homes and several cars in a village near Achimair’s murder site. The Palestinian Health Ministry said three people from the village were injured, one critically. Border police fired tear gas at villagers who gathered, trying to disperse them.

Violence erupted Friday afternoon when Jewish settlers who were part of the original manhunt raided the village of Al-Mughayyir, around 500 meters west of Malachei Shalom, according to an AFP reporter.

During the manhunt Friday, the settlers fired shots and torched numerous homes and cars in the village, while residents responded by throwing stones, according to AFP reporters who were there.

Mayor Amin Abu Alyah said "settlers raided the town with the excuse of searching for the missing Israeli boy," adding that "the army arrived to back them up."

Arafat Abu Alia, a resident of Al-Mughayyir, said the Israeli army told residents to gather on the outskirts of their village.

"More than 10 houses and 50 vehicles were burnt," he told AFP.

At least one person was killed and 25 wounded, the Palestinian health ministry said Friday.

Tensions have been high across the Israeli-occupied territory since the beginning of the war more than six months ago when the Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing approximately 1,200 people and abducting about 240 hostages.

Israel then launched an offensive against Hamas in Gaza, killing more than 33,000 people, according to the territory's Hamas-run health ministry.

In the West Bank, more than 460 Palestinians have been killed mostly in skirmishes caused by army raids and vigilante Israeli settlers.

Expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank have turned the area into a powder keg. Israeli outposts are not authorized there, and the international community overwhelmingly considers them illegal. However, consecutive Israeli governments have allowed sprawling Israeli settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the West, which Palestinians stake as their future state.

Over 700,000 Israelis now live in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. The West Bank alone is home to around 490,000 Israeli settlers. The territories were seized by Israel in 1967.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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