New Gaza truce efforts as aid system nears collapse

The U.N. Security Council struggled to find a unified voice Tuesday on pausing the Israel-Hamas war as aid efforts neared collapse and global economic fallout spread.

With calls growing for a new truce, Qatar-based Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh is to visit Egypt on Wednesday for talks on a ceasefire in Gaza and a prisoner exchange with Israel, a source close to the Islamist group said.

In what they say is a show of support for Palestinians in Gaza, Yemen's Huthi rebels have repeatedly fired missiles and drones towards cargo ships in the Red Sea.

Major shipping firms have diverted their vessels as a result, pushing up oil prices, and the United States announced a new security initiative to protect the waterways vital to global trade.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday joined a virtual meeting about the initiative set to include Britain, France, Italy and other countries.

A top Huthi official later said any country that acts against the rebels "will have its ships targeted in the Red Sea".

Qatar, backed by Egypt and the U.S., helped broker a week-long truce and hostage-prisoner swap in November.

U.S. news platform Axios on Monday reported that Mossad chief David Barnea, CIA director Bill Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani had met in Warsaw for talks on a potential new deal.

Israel maintained its bombardment and ground combat Tuesday in the third month of the bloodiest-ever Gaza war, which started with unprecedented attacks by Hamas against Israel on October 7.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel began a relentless bombardment, alongside a ground invasion, that Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry says has killed 19,667 people, mostly women and children.

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