At least 61 Palestinians were killed in overnight Israeli bombardments, the Health Ministry in Gaza said on Sunday, as Israel was preparing to send negotiators to new truce talks in Qatar.

Israel’s security cabinet and the smaller war cabinet were to meet to “decide on the mandate of the delegation in charge of the negotiations before its departure for Doha,” the prime minister’s office said.

Its statement did not specify when the delegation would leave for the latest round of talks which comes after Hamas submitted a new proposal for a pause in fighting and hostage release.

More than five months of war and an Israeli siege have led to dire humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, where the United Nations has repeatedly warned of looming famine for the coastal territory’s 2.4 million people.

Shelling and clashes were reported in south Gaza’s main city of Khan Yunis and elsewhere.

Most Gazans displaced by the fighting sought refuge in Rafah on the Egyptian border, where Israel  threatened to launch a ground offensive, without giving a timeline.

The head of the UN’s World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, appealed to Israel “in the name of humanity” not to launch an assault on Rafah.

An evacuation planned by the Israeli army ahead of launching its assault was not a practical solution, Tedros argued, noting that Palestinians there do not “have anywhere safe to move to.”

“This humanitarian catastrophe must not be allowed to worsen,” he said on the social media platform X.

With AFP