Israel hits Gaza as US wants to 'close' truce deal

Top U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken said Wednesday that a truce and hostage release deal to end the Gaza war was still possible, wrapping up a Middle East tour as deadly strikes rocked the Palestinian territory.

Lebanon's Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, rained rockets on northern Israel, a day after an Israeli strike killed one of its senior commanders.

Blinken, in Doha for the last stop of a tour to promote U.S. President Joe Biden's Gaza ceasefire roadmap, said the United States would work with regional partners to "close the deal".

Hamas submitted late Tuesday its response to mediators Qatar and Egypt, and Blinken said some of the proposed amendments "are workable and some are not".

A senior Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, said it sought "a permanent ceasefire and complete withdrawal" of Israeli troops from Gaza, demands rejected by Israel.

The three-stage plan, endorsed by the U.N. Security Council and Arab powers, includes a six-week ceasefire, a hostage-prisoner exchange and Gaza's internationally backed reconstruction.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said "many" of Hamas's demands were "minor and not unanticipated", while "others differ more substantively from what was outlined in the U.N. Security Council resolution".

Blinken said Israel was behind the plan, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government has far-right members strongly opposed to the deal, has yet to formally endorse it.

Netanyahu's office said he was convening a "security assessment" on Wednesday "in light of the developments in the north and Hamas's negative response on the issue of the hostage release".

Blinken expressed hopes that gaps could be closed.

"We have to see......

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