Israel-Gaza latest: 'Extraordinarily generous' deal on table for Hamas as negotiators to meet again – Sky News

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, has urged Hamas to accept Israel’s latest and “extraordinarily generous” proposal for a Gaza truce to secure a release of hostages. Overnight, strikes on Rafah are said to have killed at least 25. Listen to a Daily podcast episode as you scroll.
Monday 29 April 2024 20:30, UK
That’s it for our coverage this evening. 
We’ll be back in the morning for more updates on the conflict. 
At least 25 people have died in overnight Israeli airstrikes on Rafah, according to Hamas-led Palestinian health officials. 
Health officials also say a separate round of airstrikes on two houses in Gaza City, which is further north in the enclave, killed at least four people and injured several others.
The strike on the other house killed two brothers, they added.
This video shows the devastation in Rafah today. 
An update on ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas to bring you now. 
A French diplomatic source has told Reuters there has been a convergence on the number of hostages released in return for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, but that obstacles remained on the longer term nature of truce. 
“We’re not far off from a deal, but that’s not the first time,” the source added.

What’s in the truce deal?
Another source briefed on the talks said Israel’s proposal entails a deal to accept the release of fewer than 40 of the roughly 130 hostages believed to be still held.
This would be in exchange for freeing Palestinians jailed in Israel. 
Lord Cameron, the UK’s foreign minister, claims this deal includes a sustained 40-day ceasefire and the release of potentially thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

A second phase would then consist of a “period of sustained calm” – Israel’s compromise to a Hamas demand for permanent ceasefire.
The US secretary of state has urged Hamas to accept Israel’s latest offer – which he described as an “extraordinarily generous” proposal.
As we reported earlier, Israel has expressed concern around suggestions the International Criminal Court could be about to issue arrest warrants on charges related to the war in Gaza.
In response to Israeli media reports the ICC might soon publish the warrants for senior Israeli officials, the country’s foreign minister warned Israeli embassies to bolster security because of the risk of a “wave of severe antisemitism”.
This comes as Wstern officials said Israel has tabled an “extraordinarily generous” ceasefire deal.
So what does it all mean?
Here, our Middle East correspondent Alistair Bunkall talks us through how today’s developments fit together… 
At least five Israeli military units are responsible for gross violations of human rights, the US State Department has said. 
Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters all of the alleged violations took place before 7 October last year, and none was recorded in the Gaza Strip. 
Four of the units have “effectively remediated” their actions, Mr Patel said, before adding that conversations between Washington and the Israeli authorities were ongoing regarding the fifth unit. 
No further details have been shared. 
A US Navy ship involved in building a pier off Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid by sea appears to be at work, according to satellite photos analysed by The Associated Press.

The USNS Roy P Benavidez is about 8km (5 miles) from the pier being built by the Israeli military.
A satellite image by Planet Labs PBC showed pieces of the floating pier in the Mediterranean Sea alongside the vessel.
The US and Israel have both said they hope to have the mobile pier in place and in use by early May.
Reuters news agency reports the cost estimate has risen to $320m (£278m), double the initial figure, according to a person familiar with the matter.
“The cost has not just risen, it has exploded,” senator Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Democratic-led Senate Armed Services Committee, said when asked about the costs.
“This dangerous effort with marginal benefit will now cost the American taxpayers at least $320m to operate the pier for only 90 days.” 

The Pentagon has said the operation involves about 1,000 US service members, mostly from the army and navy.
The pier will initially handle 90 trucks a day, but that number could go up to 150 trucks daily when it is fully operational.
The UN said last week the daily average number of trucks entering Gaza during April was 200 and that there had been a peak today of 316.
A senior US official said last week humanitarian aid coming off the pier would need to pass through Israeli checkpoints on land – despite inspections by Israel in Cyprus beforehand.
The prospect of checkpoints raises questions about possible delays even after aid reaches shore. 
A ship off Yemen has been damaged after an explosion nearby, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations has said. 
The explosion was reported 54 nautical miles northwest of al Mukha, near Taiz. 
Both ship and crew are safe, UKMTO said. 
The vessel, which is a merchant ship, is heading to the next safe port of call. 
UKMTO did not offer any further detail, but the Yemeni Houthi group have been targeting ships in the region for some months. 
The report appears to be offering further detail on our 11.57am post, given the time of the incident and the area it was reported. 
The Houthis are part of an Iran-aligned regional alliance, which also includes Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
The group governs swathes of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, more than a thousand miles from Israel.
The Houthis say they are targeting any and all ships they believe are linked, operated, owned, flagged or travelling to or from Israel. 
The Houthis have not commented on this latest attack in the area. 
It’s just passed 5pm, so here’s a round-up of what has been happening today:
Talks with pro-Palestinian protesters who began camping at Columbia University two weeks ago have failed, the school’s president has said.
Nemat Minouche Shafik, whose administration has been criticised by a campus oversight panel for its response to the protests, urged demonstrators to leave voluntarily – without saying what would happen if they do not.
She said organisers and academic leaders could not reach an agreement that would break a stalemate over the encampment, which the administration says violates university rules.

She said Columbia would not divest assets supporting Israel’s military – a key demand of the protesters – but the school has offered to invest in health and education in Gaza.

Meanwhile, protesters say they will keep their encampment until three demands are met: 
Ms Shafik has faced an outcry from many students, staff and outside observers for calling New York City police to dismantle the encampment, resulting in more than 100 arrests.
Efforts to disband the camp, which students set up again within days of the police action, came ahead of dozens of similar protests at schools from California to Boston.
Last week, two deadlines Columbia imposed on protesters to remove tents passed without an agreement, citing progress in the talks.
It is now unclear what the university might do.
Hamas is considering a truce proposal presented by Israel over the weekend (see our 2.50pm post for what this plan entails).
Initial indications are Hamas sees no immediate problem with the idea, but our Middle East correspondent Alistair Bunkall says there must also be caution around any optimism.
“We’ve spoken about [ceasefire deals] previously, on many occasions it’s looked very hopeful and then something has come along to stop it in its tracks,” he says, speaking from Jerusalem.
“There’s obviously going to be huge caution around this latest round of talks.”
But there are also signs an agreement could be reached, with reports Israel has made a compromise.
He says he has heard Israel is not demanding the release of 40 hostages in the first phase – now they’ve lowered that to 33.
While Israelis are not saying they will withdraw fully from Gaza and entertain a permanent ceasefire, they are talking about a partial withdrawal and an extended period of calm in Gaza.
Will Hamas’s boss agree?
“Are we getting closer to one? Well, that probably now depends on Hamas,” Bunkall says.
“Initial reports coming from sources close to Hamas say that they don’t see any problems with the Israeli proposal, but it will be ultimately the decision for Yahya Sinwar, who is Hamas’s leader in Gaza.
“It’s believed he has blocked some of the previous ceasefire deals, as he’s seen no real advantage for Hamas to agree to a ceasefire, with more humanitarian aid starting to get into Gaza and Israeli troops drawing down.
“But Israel is saying ‘this is your last chance and if you don’t take this opportunity, then the Rafah invasion will go ahead and we want an answer sooner rather than later’. 
“So, we’ll see whether or not anything emerges from talks.”
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