Egypt floats ambitious plan to end Israel-Hamas war as Netanyahu vows to expand Gaza combat
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt has put forward an ambitious, initial proposal to end the Israel-Hamas war with a cease-fire, a phased hostage release and the creation of a Palestinian government of experts who would administer the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank, a senior Egyptian official and a European diplomat said Monday.
Word of the proposal came as Israeli airstrikes heavily pounded central and southern Gaza, crushing buildings on families sheltering inside. In the Maghazi refugee camp, rescue workers were still pulling bodies from the wreckage hours after a strike that killed at least 106 people, according to hospital records seen by The Associated Press — one of the deadliest of Israel’s air campaign.
The Egyptian proposal, worked out with the Gulf nation of Qatar, has been presented to Israel, Hamas, the United States and European governments but still appeared preliminary. It falls short of Israel’s professed goal of outright crushing Hamas after its October 7 attack on southern Israel, which triggered the war. It would appear not to meet Israel’s insistence on keeping military control over Gaza for an extended period after the war. It also is unclear if Hamas would agree to relinquish power.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed the war would not stop.
“We are expanding the fight in the coming days and this will be a long battle and it isn’t close to finished,” he said, speaking to members of his Likud Party.
He delivered a similar message in a speech in Israel’s parliament, where families of the more than 100 Israeli hostages still held in Gaza held signs calling for Israel to reach a deal to bring them home immediately. “Now! Now!,” they chanted from the gallery.
Netanyahu and other members of the War Cabinet are to meet later Monday, an Israeli official said, but would not say if they would discuss the Egyptian proposal. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.
The war has devastated large parts of Gaza, killed more than 20,400 Palestinians and displaced almost all of the territory’s 2.3 million people. UN officials warning that a quarter of the population are starving under Israel’s siege of the territory, which allows only a trickle of supplies in. Arriving aid trucks are often met by crowds of desperate people who in some cases have looted boxes of food and water.
A policeman with the Hamas-run Interior Ministry shot to death a 13-year-old boy when a group of people tried to seize aid from trucks arriving near the southern city of Rafah on Sunday, an official with Hamas government media office said Monday.
Enraged relatives of the slain boy attempted to attack a police station, burning tires and demanding the policeman be held accountable. The devastation of the war over the past weeks has brought sporadic eruptions of anger against Hamas, something that has previously been unthinkable during the group’s 16-year rule over Gaza.
Despite growing international pressure for a halt, Israel has said it is determined to destroy Hamas’ governing and military capabilities after the October 7 attack, in which militants rampaged in southern Israeli communities, killing around 1,200 people and abducting around 240. Israel also says it aims to free 129 people still held hostage.