Mediators in Cairo made a renewed push for a Gaza ceasefire, but differences remained as fighting raged on in the Palestinian territory gripped by desperate food shortages.

US, Qatari and Hamas envoys travelled to Cairo for the latest effort towards a six-week truce, stepped-up aid deliveries and the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

But sticking points remained, including a Hamas demand that the Israeli armed forces entirely withdraw from the Gaza Strip after almost five months of devastating war.

And Israel, which has so far announced no plans to join the Egypt talks, has demanded Hamas provide it with a list of all 130 remaining captives, including more than 30 it fears are dead.

Mediators have been scrambling to lock in a truce before Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month that begins in around one week.

Envoys from the United States, Qatar and Hamas have arrived in Cairo, Egyptian state-linked media reported Sunday.

Washington regards Hamas as a “terrorist” organisation, and in previous talks Egyptian officials have acted as intermediaries.

A US official, speaking to reporters late Saturday, had said “there’s a framework deal” for a ceasefire which could start “today if Hamas agrees to release” elderly, women and ill hostages.

“The Israelis have more or less accepted it,” the administration official said. “Right now, the ball is in the camp of Hamas.”

A Hamas official said that, if Israel were to meet its demands, this would “pave the way for an agreement within the next 24-48 hours”.

Osama Hamdan, a Lebanon-based Hamas official, told Qatar’s Al-Araby TV that the group insisted on a complete, rather than “temporary”, ceasefire and on “ending the aggression against our people”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far rejected pulling troops out of Gaza before Hamas is destroyed and all hostages are freed.

The Hamas official also said the group would demand “the entry of at least 400 to 500 trucks per day” carrying food, medicine and fuel as part of a truce deal.

Israel had yet to confirm that it has accepted the truce plan or whether it would attend the Cairo talks.

Netanyahu has faced mounting calls to secure the release of the hostages, from their desperate families and from a resurgent anti-government protest movement.

With AFP