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Israel-Gaza live updates: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects hostage deal proposal, freed hostages react

israel-gaza-live-updates:-israeli-prime-minister-netanyahu-rejects-hostage-deal-proposal,-freed-hostages-react

Israel-Gaza live updates: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects hostage deal proposal, freed hostages react

Luis Diaz Devesa/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — More than 100 days since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, the Israeli military continues its bombardment of the neighboring Gaza Strip.

The conflict, now the deadliest between the warring sides since Israel’s founding in 1948, shows no signs of letting up soon and the brief cease-fire that allowed for over 100 hostages to be freed from Gaza remains a distant memory.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Feb 07, 5:00 PM
Blinken: Hamas counteroffer has ‘clear nonstarters,’ but there’s ‘space for agreement’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he believes a hostage deal is still within reach, despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s earlier comments rejecting Hamas’ counteroffer.

“We had an opportunity to discuss with the Israeli government the response that Hamas sent last night to the proposal that the United States, Qatar and Egypt have put together to bring the remaining hostages and extend the humanitarian pause,” Blinken said at a news conference in Israel Wednesday. “What I can tell you about these discussions is that while there are some clear nonstarters in Hamas’ response, we do think it creates space for agreement to be reached and we will work at that relentlessly until we get there.”

Blinken later added, “These things are always negotiations. It’s not flipping a light switch.”

Blinken said he plans to meet with the families of hostages on Thursday.

As for Israel’s growing offensive in Gaza, Blinken stressed that “any military operation that Israel undertakes needs to put civilians first and foremost in mind.”

Blinken said he had outlined specific measures the U.S. expected to see during his “extensive” talks with Netanyahu and Israeli national security leaders.

He said Israel should open a border crossing between Israel and northern Gaza to help improve the flow of humanitarian aid.

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Feb 07, 3:23 PM
Freed hostages react to Netanyahu rejecting deal

Freed Israeli hostages and families of those still being held hostage by Hamas are speaking out, pleading for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a hostage deal, after the prime minister on Wednesday rejected the current proposed deal.

Netanyahu called the deal “delusional,” and described it as a “surrender” that would lead to another massacre.

Adina Moshe, who was released after being held hostage for 49 days, said Wednesday, “We love our country. … But I want my country back and its morality that is gone.”

“I fear for the lives and fates of the hostages,” Moshe said. “I’m afraid we’ll have nothing to pass on to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Please, prime minister: If you continue on this path, there will be no more hostages to release. Restore our trust — release them now.”

Sahar Calderon, a 16-year-old who was released after being held hostage for 54 days, said, “Every hour there was hell. . … A terrorist glared at me for 24 hours with murder in his eyes, and every minute I feared being raped.”

Calderon’s father is still being held hostage.

“I am grateful to the government for bringing me back, but what about my father, who is abandoned anew every day, uncertain if he will live or die?” she said. “Bring him back — do not make me lose faith in our country a second time.”

Feb 07, 1:45 PM
Israeli prime minister rejects hostage deal proposal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected the current proposed hostage and cease-fire deal, calling it “delusional,” and describing it as a “surrender” that would lead to another massacre. But Netanyahu did not say negotiations were closed.

To the families of the hostages, Netanyahu said in Hebrew, “Your loved ones are always standing before my eyes. … We do not stop working for the release of our abductees — even now.”

“The continuation of military pressure is a necessary condition for the release of the abductees,” he said. “Surrendering to the delusional demands of Hamas … not only will not lead to the release of the abductees, it will only invite another massacre.”

Netanyahu also said it would be “a matter of months” to reach Israel’s objectives and achieve “total victory” of completely dismantling Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu said he told Secretary of State Antony Blinken in their meeting Wednesday, “We are within touching distance of a complete victory, which will also be the victory of the entire free world — not only of Israel.”

Netanyahu also said the Israeli military operation will expand to the city of Rafah, where thousands of Gaza residents have fled and are living in makeshift shelters.

-ABC News’ Anna Burd and Jordana Miller

Feb 07, 12:20 PM
New round of hostage negotiations to take place in Cairo: Egyptian state TV

Egypt and Qatar will co-host a new round of negotiations on the proposed hostage and cease-fire deal on Thursday in Cairo, Egyptian state TV reported.

Feb 07, 10:41 AM
Blinken meets with Netanyahu on latest trip to Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

First, Netanyahu and Blinken “held a long and in-depth meeting in private” before having “an extended meeting” with other Israeli and U.S. officials, according to a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

During the meeting, Blinken reaffirmed Israel’s right to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas and the need to protect civilians in Gaza, according to the State Department. Blinken also stressed the importance of a two-state solution — a prospect Netanyahu has vocally opposed.

It’s Blinken’s fifth trip to the Middle East since Oct. 7 when war erupted between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules the neighboring Gaza Strip. The United States, along with Egypt and Qatar, has been involved in negotiations between the warring sides.

ABC News’ Jordana Miller, Shannon Crawford and Morgan Winsor

Feb 07, 7:22 AM
Blinken meets with Netanyahu on latest trip to Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

First, Netanyahu and Blinken “held a long and in-depth meeting in private” before having “an extended meeting” with other Israeli and U.S. officials, according to a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

It’s Blinken’s fifth trip to the Middle East since Oct. 7 when war erupted between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules the neighboring Gaza Strip. The United States, along with Egypt and Qatar, has been involved in negotiations between the warring sides.

Feb 06, 7:33 PM
US House fails to pass Israel aid bill

The U.S. House failed to pass a $17.6 billion standalone bill to provide aid to Israel.

The bill failed 250-180 during a vote Tuesday evening.

The GOP measure was being considered under suspension, which required a two-thirds majority to pass.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who unveiled the standalone bill over the weekend, blamed President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for its failure.

“The decision by President Biden and Leader Schumer to torpedo this bill to aid the Israeli people in their fight against Hamas is a disappointing rebuke to our closest ally in the Middle East at their time of great need,” Johnson said in a statement following the vote.

The Biden administration had issued a veto threat to the bill on Monday, saying it “strongly opposes” the measure after a bipartisan group of senators came to an agreement on a national security supplemental that includes Israel aid.

Schumer said he was against the bill and wanted Israel aid coupled with aid for Ukraine, Taiwan and the border.

Feb 06, 4:50 PM
Qatari prime minister: Hamas has responded to hostage deal framework

Hamas has formally responded to the proposed framework for a deal exchanging hostages remaining in Gaza for an extended cease-fire, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said Tuesday during a press conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“The reply includes some comments, but in general it is positive,” he said via a translator. “However, given the sensitivity of the circumstances we will not tackle details. We are optimistic and we have delivered the response to the Israeli party.”

Hamas in a statement did not say they had agreed to the deal but said they “dealt with” the proposed hostage deal “with a positive spirit.”

However, after receiving the response from Hamas, Israeli officials indicated a deal is still “far off,” according to Israeli political sources.

While Blinken didn’t express the same level of optimism as the Qatari prime minister, he maintained that a hostage deal was within reach, saying now that they had a response from Hamas, negotiators would be “intensely focused on that.”

“We’re reviewing that response now, and I’ll be discussing it with the government of Israel tomorrow,” Blinken said. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and indeed, essential, and we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it.”

When asked about the amount of time it took for Hamas to deliver an answer, the Qatari prime minister said “communication was presenting some challenges” and that “it took some time to get them to a place where we get that response,” adding, “we are hoping to see it yielding very soon.”

Feb 06, 4:02 PM
31 hostages are dead and remain in captivity in Gaza, Israeli sources say

The bodies of 31 hostages remain in Gaza, according to Israeli sources. The 31 hostages either died while being held captive by Hamas or were killed on Oct. 7, the sources said.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Feb 06, 1:31 PM
Qatari prime minister: Hamas has responded to hostage deal framework

Hamas has formally responded to the proposed framework for a deal exchanging hostages remaining in Gaza for an extended cease-fire, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said Tuesday during a press conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“The reply includes some comments, but in general it is positive,” he said via a translator. “However, given the sensitivity of the circumstances we will not tackle details. We are optimistic and we have delivered the response to the Israeli party.”

Hamas in a statement did not say they had agreed to the deal but said they “dealt with” the proposed hostage deal “with a positive spirit.”

While Blinken didn’t express the same level of optimism as the Qatari prime minister, he maintained that a hostage deal was within reach, saying now that they had a response from Hamas, negotiators would be “intensely focused on that.”

“We’re reviewing that response now, and I’ll be discussing it with the government of Israel tomorrow,” Blinken said. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and indeed, essential, and we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it.”

When asked about the amount of time it took for Hamas to deliver an answer, the Qatari prime minister said “communication was presenting some challenges” and that “it took some time to get them to a place where we get that response,” adding, “we are hoping to see it yielding very soon.”

ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Feb 06, 9:48 AM
Blinken meets with Egypt’s president amid push for new truce

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss Israel’s ongoing war in the neighboring Gaza Strip.

Their “meeting focused on developments in unyielding efforts aimed at reaching a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, exchanging detainees and providing access of needed relief aid to end the severe humanitarian catastrophe in the sector,” according to a readout from Egypt’s presidency.

It’s Blinken’s fifth trip to the Middle East since war erupted between Israel and Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas. Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been involved in negotiations between the warring sides.

Feb 05, 11:54 AM
UN secretary-general opens independent review into UNRWA

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced Monday that he has appointed an independent review group to determine whether the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is “doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made.”

The probe comes amid Israel’s allegations that a dozen UNRWA employees were involved in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 terror attack.

“These accusations come at a time when UNRWA, the largest U.N. organization in the region, is working under extremely challenging conditions to deliver life-saving assistance to the 2 million people in the Gaza Strip who depend on it for their survival amidst one of the largest and most complex humanitarian crises in the world,” Guterres said in a statement.

The independent review group will begin its work on Feb. 14 and will provide an interim report by late March. A final report is due April 2024, according to Guterres.

The probe is separate from an investigation the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight is conducting into the allegations.

UNRWA has said it is investigating the allegations and took swift action against those accused of participating in the attack. However, the United States and other top donors have suspended their funding to the agency, which is the biggest humanitarian aid provider in the war-torn Gaza Strip.

ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman and Morgan Winsor

Feb 05, 8:43 AM
Food convoy hit by Israeli naval gunfire in Gaza, UNRWA says

A food aid convoy waiting to move into the north of the Gaza Strip was struck by Israeli naval gunfire on Monday morning, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

“Thankfully no one was injured,” Tom White, director of UNRWA affairs in Gaza, wrote in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

There was no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces.

-ABC News’ Morgan Winsor

Feb 03, 4:52 PM
House plans vote on standalone Israel aid bill next week

House Speaker Mike Johnson announced on Saturday the House will vote on a standalone $17.6 billion Israel aid package next week.

“Next week, we will take up and pass a clean, standalone Israel supplemental package. During debate in the House and in numerous subsequent statements, Democrats made clear that their primary objection to the original House bill was with its offsets. The Senate will no longer have excuses, however misguided, against swift passage of this critical support for our ally,” Johnson said in a letter to colleagues obtained by ABC News.

This news is a major reversal after House Republicans previously approved a $14.3 billion Israel funding package that included cuts to IRS funding. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not bring this legislation to the floor for vote because of Democrats’ opposition to IRS funding cuts.

Johnson again emphasized the Senate negotiated supplemental will face an uphill battle in the House and attacked Senators for excluding him and the House from the bipartisan talks.

-ABC News’ Lauren Peller

Feb 03, 3:21 PM
IDF deploys 3 divisions to northern border amid Hezbollah attacks

The Israeli military has deployed three divisions to the northern border amid Hezbollah’s attacks on northern Israel, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said at a press conference Saturday.

He said the IDF is working to “reshape the security reality” on the northern border, so that some 80,000 Israelis displaced by Hezbollah’s attacks can return to their homes.

“We do not choose war as our first option but are certainly ready, and preparing for it all the time, if need be,” Hagari said.

The IDF has struck more than 150 cells, killing some 200 terror operatives, mostly members of Hezbollah, and targeted more than 3,400 Hezbollah sites since the beginning of the war in Gaza, according to Hagari.

-ABC News’ Anna Burd

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