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Netanyahu: Gaza deal must let Israel resume fighting until war goals met

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By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell

CAIRO/JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Any Gaza ceasefire deal must allow Israel to resume fighting until its objectives are met, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, as talks over a U.S. plan aimed at ending the nine-month-old war were expected to restart.

Five days after Hamas accepted a key part of the plan, two officials from the Palestinian militant group said the group was awaiting Israel’s response to its latest proposal.

Netanyahu was scheduled to hold consultations late on Sunday on the next steps in negotiating the three-phase plan that was presented in May by U.S. President Joe Biden and is being mediated by Qatar and Egypt.

It aims to end the war and free around 120 Israeli hostages being held in Gaza.

Hamas has dropped a key demand that Israel first commit to a permanent ceasefire before it would sign an agreement. Instead, it said it would allow negotiations to achieve that throughout the six-week first phase, a Hamas source told Reuters on Saturday on condition of anonymity.

But Netanyahu said he insisted the deal must not prevent Israel from resuming fighting until its war objectives are met. Those goals were defined at the start of the war as dismantling Hamas’ military and governing capabilities, as well as returning the hostages.

“The plan that has been agreed to by Israel and which has been welcomed by President Biden will allow Israel to return hostages without infringing on the other objectives of the war,” Netanyahu said.

The deal, he said, must also prohibit weapons smuggling to Hamas via the Gaza-Egypt border and should not allow for thousands of armed militants to return to northern Gaza.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns is to meet with the Qatari prime minister and the Israeli and Egyptian intelligence chiefs on Wednesday in Doha, said a source familiar with the issue who asked not to be further identified.

Burns is also expected to visit Cairo this week, along with an Israeli delegation, Egypt’s Al Qahera News TV reported on Sunday, citing a high-ranking source.

A Palestinian official close to the talks said the proposal could lead to a framework agreement if embraced by Israel, and would end the war.

“We have left our response with the mediators and are waiting to hear the occupation’s response,” one of the two Hamas officials told Reuters, asking not to be identified.

Another Palestinian official with knowledge of the ceasefire deliberations said Israel was in talks with the Qataris and that a response was expected within days.

PROTESTS IN ISRAEL

In Israel, protesters took to the streets across the country to press the government to agree to the Gaza ceasefire deal, which would bring back hostages still being held in Gaza.

They blocked rush-hour traffic at major intersections across the country, picketed politicians’ houses and briefly set fire to tyres on the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway before police cleared the way.

In Gaza, Palestinian health officials said at least 15 people were killed in Israeli strikes.

Among them were Ehab Al-Ghussein, the Hamas-appointed deputy minister of labour whose wife and children were killed in May, and three other people killed in a strike at a church-run school in western Gaza City sheltering families, Hamas media and the Civil Emergency Service said.

The Israeli military said that after it took steps to minimise the risk of civilians being harmed there, it struck militants who were hiding in the school, as well as a facility in the vicinity where weapons were being made.

In central and northern areas of Rafah, on the southern Gaza border with Egypt, Israeli tanks deepened their raids. Health officials there said they had recovered three bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in the eastern part of the city.

The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, an allied militant group, said fighters had attacked Israeli forces in several locations Gaza Strip with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs.

The Israeli military said its forces had killed 30 Palestinian gunmen in Rafah in the past day, and that one of its soldiers was killed in combat.

In Shejaia, an eastern suburb of Gaza City, the military said its forces had killed several gunmen, and located weapons and explosives. It published a drone video showing gunmen, some appearing to be wounded or dead, in a house.

Reuters could not immediately verify the video.

The conflict was triggered on Oct. 7 when fighters led by Hamas, which controlled Gaza, attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostages, according to Israeli figures.

© Reuters. An Israeli soldier operates during a ground operation in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, July 3, 2024.  Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool via REUTERS

More than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military onslaught, according to Gaza health officials, and the coastal enclave has largely been reduced to rubble.

Gaza’s health ministry does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, but officials say most of the dead throughout the war have been civilians. Israel has lost 324 soldiers in Gaza, and says at least a third of the Palestinian dead are fighters.

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Hamas says it has not left ceasefire talks after Israeli attacks

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By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell

CAIRO/JERUSALEM (Reuters) -A senior Hamas official said on Sunday that the Islamist group has not withdrawn from ceasefire talks with Israel after this weekend’s deadly attacks in Gaza that Israel said had targeted the group’s military leader Mohammed Deif.

But Izzat El-Reshiq, a member of the political office of Hamas, accused Israel of trying to derail efforts by Arab mediators and the United States to reach a ceasefire deal by stepping up its attacks in the enclave.

Saturday’s strike in the Khan Younis area of Gaza, in which at least 90 Palestinians were killed, according to local health authorities, has put the ceasefire talks in doubt.

There had been increasingly hopeful signs in recent days that a deal could be reached to halt fighting and return hostages held in Gaza.

Two Egyptian security sources at ceasefire talks in Doha and Cairo said on Saturday that negotiations had been halted after three days of intense talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to convene his close circle of ministers later on Sunday to discuss the talks.

The strike on Saturday which targeted Deif killed Rafa Salama, commander of Hamas’ Khan Younis brigade, the Israeli military said on Sunday, but there was no confirmation about the fate of Deif.

“The strike in Khan Younis was a result of surgical intelligence,” the head of the Shin Bet domestic security service said in a video released by the service from Rafah. He said 25 Hamas operatives who took part in the deadly Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel that triggered the war had been killed in the past week.

On Saturday, a senior Hamas official denied that Deif had been killed and the group said Israeli claims were aimed at justifying the attack.

Israel’s military chief said on Sunday in a televised statement that Hamas was concealing the truth about Deif’s fate, but stopped short of confirming whether he was alive or dead.

Israeli forces pressed ahead on Sunday with aerial and ground shelling of several areas across the Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million people, most of whom have been displaced by the war.

A strike on a UN-run school in Nuseirat camp, one of Gaza’s eight longstanding refugee camps, killed 15 Palestinians and wounded dozens more, Hamas media and health officials said.

The Israeli military said the site was used as a base for Hamas fighters to attack Israeli forces and said numerous steps were taken to limit the risk of harming civilians, including the use of precise munitions and intelligence.

Residents said two missiles targeted the upper floor of the school, not far from the camp’s local market, usually busy with shoppers, where displaced families have also taken shelter nearby.

Earlier on Sunday, Israeli airstrikes on four houses in Gaza City killed at least 16 Palestinians and wounded dozens of others, medics said.

The Gaza health ministry said at least 38,584 Palestinians have been killed and 88,881 others injured in Israel’s military offensive since Oct. 7.

It added that 141 Palestinians were killed by Israeli military strikes across the Gaza Strip in the past day, the biggest one-day death toll in many weeks.

Gaza’s health ministry does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants but officials say most of the dead throughout the war have been civilians.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Palestinians gather near damage, following what Palestinians say was an Israeli strike at a tent camp in Al-Mawasi area, amid Israel-Hamas conflict, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip July 13, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo

Israel says it has lost 326 soldiers in Gaza and says at least a third of the Palestinian fatalities are fighters.

The war began after a Hamas-led attack inside Israel on Oct. 7, that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw around 250 taken hostage to Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.

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Trump rally shooting victim died shielding family from bullets

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(Reuters) -The person shot and killed at former President Donald Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday was a 50-year-old volunteer firefighter who shielded his family to protect them as gunshots rang out, the state’s Governor Josh Shapiro said on Sunday.

The victim was identified as Corey Comperatore, according to his family’s posting on Facebook (NASDAQ:).

“The PA Trump Rally claimed the life of my brother, Corey Comperatore. The hatred for one man took the life of the one man we loved the most,” the victim’s sister said in the post on Sunday.

Comperatore previously served as the chief of the Buffalo Township Volunteer Fire Department, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Shapiro said he had spoken to Comperatore’s family and he relayed parts of the conversation to reporters.

“Corey died a hero. Corey dove on his family to protect them last night at this rally,” Shapiro said. “Corey was the very best of us.”

Comperatore was survived by a wife and two daughters. “Corey was a girl dad,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro added: “Corey was a firefighter. Corey went to church every Sunday. Corey loved his community and most especially Corey loves his family.”

Shapiro described the victim “as an avid supporter of the former president.”

© Reuters. A satellite image around Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump's rally location in Butler, Pennsylvania, U.S.  June 2, 2023.  Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

Trump had just begun his speech at the Pennsylvania rally when the sound of shots rang out and it became apparent that Trump was also injured when a bullet grazed his right ear.

The FBI has identified 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, as the suspect in what the government is calling an assassination attempt on Trump.

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Google parent close to $23 billion deal to buy cybersecurity startup Wiz, WSJ reports

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(Reuters) – Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:) is in advanced talks to acquire cybersecurity startup Wiz for roughly $23 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

A deal could come together soon, assuming the talks don’t fall apart, the report added.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Small figurines are seen in front of displayed Alphabet logo in this illustration taken February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Ilustration/File Photo

Google and Wiz did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

The U.S.-Israeli startup raised $1 billion in a private funding round in May, which values the four-year-old cloud cybersecurity company at $12 billion.

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