Blinken meets Israeli PM for talks on Gaza truce plan

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday to push for a ceasefire as the Gaza war enters its fifth month.

Israel and Hamas have been weighing a proposal, brokered by U.S., Qatari and Egyptian mediators, that would be expected to temporarily halt the fighting and see Gaza hostages freed and Palestinian prisoners released.

"There's still a lot of work to be done," Blinken said in Doha late on Tuesday after earlier stops in Saudi Arabia and Egypt on his fifth Middle East crisis tour since the Oct. 7 attack sparked the war.

"But we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and indeed essential, and we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it," the U.S. top diplomat told reporters.

For now, the war raged on unabated in Hamas-ruled Gaza, where the health ministry said at least 100 people were killed overnight and AFP journalists reported more heavy bombing of southern cities.

Israeli forces, in their campaign to destroy Hamas, have pushed steadily south, with the heaviest combat raging in the city of Khan Yunis in recent weeks.

Fear has grown among the more than one million Palestinians now crowded into Gaza's far south, around the city of Rafah on the Egyptian border, as the battlefront has crept ever closer.

"I am terrified that Israel will begin a ground operation in Rafah," said Dana Ahmed, 40, who was displaced from Gaza City with her three children and now lives in a tent in Rafah.

She said she spent a sleepless night as Israeli fighter jets roared through the sky and explosions shook the ground.

"I cannot imagine what will happen to us," she said. "Where will we go now? The situation is catastrophic. I feel like I am...

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