Israel says Hamas has rejected hostage, aid proposal

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Hamas has rejected the latest proposal for a deal to return Israeli hostages and Israel will continue to pursue its objectives in Gaza "with full force", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement on Sunday.

The statement said that the rejection of the proposals showed that Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, did not want a deal and was trying to exploit tensions with Iran and bring about a regional escalation of the conflict.

Hamas confirmed on Saturday night that it had responded to the proposal, and reaffirmed its demands based on “a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of the (Israeli) army from the entire Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced to their areas and places of residence, intensifying the entry of relief and aid, and the start of reconstruction.”

The mediating countries, namely the United States, Qatar and Egypt, presented a proposal last Sunday to both Israel and Hamas, and put pressure on both parties without either of them appearing ready to make concessions or withdraw from the negotiation.

It stipulated the release of 42 Israeli hostages in exchange for the release of 800 to 900 Palestinians detained by Israel, the entry of 400 to 500 trucks of food aid daily and the return of displaced persons from northern Gaza to their towns, according to a Hamas source.

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