Hamas' top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to engage in discussions regarding the ongoing war in Gaza. This conflict has witnessed relentless Israeli bombardment and intense urban combat over the past 10 weeks, resulting in a devastating toll on the Palestinian population, with almost 20,000 lives lost.

Recently, Hamas demonstrated its strength by launching rockets that triggered air raid sirens in central Israel. This move aimed to display the group's resilience amid the destruction that has displaced approximately 1.9 million Palestinians, accounting for nearly 85% of the Gaza population.

Israel has been actively advocating for the international community to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization, emphasizing the necessity to eradicate it due to its October 7 cross-border attack on southern Israel, which fueled the current war. However, there have been renewed indirect talks between the two sides, facilitated by Egypt and Qatar, with the objective of establishing another cease-fire and securing the release of more hostages held by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel.

Despite recent high-level diplomatic efforts, no agreement seems imminent. Hamas issued a statement indicating that Haniyeh's discussions with Egyptian officials would encompass the ongoing conflict without providing further details.

In November, Egypt, alongside Qatar, played a mediating role in a weeklong cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. As part of this agreement, Hamas released over 100 hostages, and Israel reciprocated by releasing 240 Palestinian prisoners.

Israel's Operation to 'Clear' the North

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced on Tuesday that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were conducting operations within Hamas' tunnel network in northern Gaza. This initiative is part of a larger mission labeled as a "final clearing" operation to eliminate militants from the region. The densely populated urban area in northern Gaza, including its largest city, Gaza City, has been at the epicenter of fierce clashes, resulting in a significant number of casualties according to Palestinian health officials.

Gallant disclosed that the military will continue operations in southern Gaza for several months, including an assault on Khan Younis, the second-largest city in the enclave. Gallant emphasized the IDF's commitment to persist until their objectives are achieved.

Gaza Death Toll Rises Amid Ongoing Conflict

The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza has reported that the death toll since the start of the war has now exceeded 19,600. It is important to note that the ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, making it difficult to gauge the true impact of the conflict on the civilian population.

Hamas Holds Captives Despite Releasing Some

In a shocking attack on October 7, Hamas and other militants abducted approximately 240 individuals. While most of the captive hostages, primarily women and children, were released last month, an estimated 129 individuals are still being held against their will.

Israel's Losses and Claims

Israel's military has announced that 131 of its soldiers have lost their lives during the ground offensive in Gaza. On the other hand, Israel claims to have eliminated around 7,000 militants without presenting any evidence to support this assertion. Furthermore, Israel places blame on Hamas for civilian deaths, asserting that the group utilizes these innocent individuals as human shields during clashes in residential areas.

UN Pushes for Aid Resolution Amidst Stalled Ceasefire Talks

U.N. Security Council members are actively engaged in negotiations to develop an Arab-sponsored resolution aimed at bringing an end to the fighting. The objective is to create a conducive environment for much-needed humanitarian aid to be delivered to Gaza, where it is urgently required.

Originally anticipated for a vote on Monday, the resolution has been postponed until Wednesday as discussions persist. The hope is to secure the United States' support by either abstaining or voting "yes" on the resolution after it previously exercised its veto power to block an earlier ceasefire proposal.

In a surprising turn of events, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany—close allies of Israel—have joined the international community's calls for an immediate ceasefire. Meanwhile, inside Israel, protesters are urging their government to engage in negotiations with Hamas to secure the release of the remaining hostages held by the group.

Israel's Determination Amidst Global Pressure

Israel remains resolute and determined to continue its military operation until Hamas is no longer in power, its armed wing is dismantled, and all hostages are safely returned. Although the Biden administration has urged Israel to take additional measures to protect innocent civilians, it continues to offer unwavering diplomatic and military support for Israel's offensive.

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