Gaza truce talks were underway in Paris Friday, in what appears to be the most serious push for weeks to halt the fighting in the battered Palestinian enclave and see Israeli and foreign hostages released.
"There are budding signs of optimism about being able to move forward toward the start of a serious negotiation," a source said. Egypt's Al Qahera TV News also reported that the talks had begun.
An official from Hamas said the group had wrapped up ceasefire talks in Cairo and was now waiting to see what mediators -- Qatar, Egypt and the US -- bring back from the weekend talks with Israel.
Mediators have ramped up efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, in the hope of heading off an Israeli assault on the Gaza city of Rafah where more than a million displaced people are sheltering at the southern edge of the enclave.
Israel says it will attack the city if no truce agreement is reached soon. Washington has called on its close ally not to do so, warning of vast civilian casualties if an assault on the city goes ahead.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met Egyptian mediators in Cairo to discuss a truce this past week on his first visit since December.
The Hamas official, who asked not to be identified, said the group did not offer any new proposal at the talks with the Egyptians, but was waiting to see what the mediators would bring back from their talks with the Israelis.
"We discussed our proposal with them (the Egyptians) and we are going to wait until they return from Paris," the Hamas official said.
Two Palestinian officials familiar with the negotiations said Hamas has not changed its stance in the latest push to reach a deal, and still demands that a truce end with an Israeli pullout.
As night fell over the impoverished Strip, an air strike targeting a residential unit in central Gaza's Deir Al-Balah killed at least 22 Palestinians, health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said.
Health officials said many family members of Mahmoud Abu Zaeiter, a comedian with 1.2mn online followers, were among the dead.
The Gaza health ministry said earlier that 104 people had been killed and 160 others were wounded in Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours.
At least 29,514 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Oct 7, the Gaza health ministry said Friday.
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