Fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas raged on in southern Gaza on Tuesday, November 23. On the diplomatic front, negotiations for a new truce are underway.

Combat raged in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, against a backdrop of negotiations aimed at bringing about a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas in the absence of a long-term peace plan.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said early on Tuesday that Israeli forces had targeted its headquarters in Khan Yunis “with artillery shelling on the fourth floor, coinciding with intense gunfire from Israeli drones, resulting in injuries among internally displaced individuals who sought safety on our premises.”

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA reported that “ground operations, fighting and attacks intensified” over the preceding day around the main southern city, with the Israeli army saying that its forces had conducted multiple raids and taken control of Hamas command centers there.

The fierce fighting came as a White House official was due in the region for talks aimed at securing more hostage releases, and as US media reported a new Israeli proposal for a deal that would involve a two-month pause in fighting.

UN agencies and aid groups sounded the alarm about the growing threat of disease and famine in Gaza, where 1.7 million people are estimated to have been displaced from their homes.

The war in the Palestinian territory broke out with Hamas’ unprecedented October 7 attacks, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

In response, Israel has been carriying out a relentless offensive that has killed at least 25,295 people in Gaza, around 70% of them are women, children and adolescents, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Hostage & Truce Talks

The Hamas attack also saw about 250 hostages seized, and Israel says that around 132 remain in Gaza. That number includes the bodies of at least 28 dead hostages, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli data.

Israel has proposed to Hamas via Qatari and Egyptian mediators a pause in fighting of up to two months as part of a deal to free all the hostages being held in Gaza, the US news site Axios reported Monday.

The report, citing unnamed Israeli officials, said the deal would take place in multiple stages, the first of which would see the release of women, men over 60 and those in critical medical condition.

Subsequent phases would involve the release of women soldiers, younger civilian men, male soldiers and the bodies of dead hostages.

The officials said the deal would also see the release of an as yet undetermined number of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel, but not all of them.

The proposal does not include promises to end the war, but it would involve Israeli troops reducing their presence in major cities in Gaza and gradually allowing residents to return to the territory’s devastated north.

The officials said the deal was expected to take around two months to implement.

Qatar, which with the US and Egypt has led negotiations for the release of hostages and pauses to the fighting in Gaza, pushed back against the reports on Tuesday.

Declining to comment on specifics of negotiations, which he said continued with “full force”, foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari said the leaks to the media were “either missing elements or completely false”.

Reports of the Israeli proposal come as US media said the White House’s coordinator for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, was due in the region for meetings in Egypt and Qatar aimed at securing a new hostage exchange deal.

With AFP