Hamas rejects latest cease-fire proposal, says Israel is ignoring its key demands

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Hamas has rejected the latest cease-fire proposal, accusing Israel of ignoring its core demands, which include an end to the war and a full withdrawal from Gaza. In a statement late Monday, the militant group said it had informed mediators that it was sticking to its original position, conveyed earlier in March. It said Israel had not responded to its core demands of a “comprehensive cease-fire, an (Israeli) withdrawal from the Strip, the return of displaced people and a real prisoner exchange.”

The statement came shortly after the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and the release of all hostages held in Gaza. The vote provoked a clash between Israel and the United States, which decided not to use its veto power Monday. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a high-level delegation’s planned visit to Washington.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected Hamas’ demands, calling them “delusional.” He has vowed to resume Israel’s offensive after any hostage release and keep fighting until Hamas is destroyed. Hamas is still believed to be holding some 100 hostages, as well as the remains of around 30 others. More than 100 hostages were freed during a weeklong cease-fire in November in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinian prisoners.

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An independent expert working with the UN’s top human rights body said Monday that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe Israel is carrying out genocide in Gaza. International aid officials say the entire population of the Gaza Strip – 2.3 million people – is suffering from food insecurity and that famine is imminent in the hard-hit north. More than 32,000 people have been killed in the besieged territory and more than 74,000 wounded, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its tally.

It says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead. Some 1,200 people were killed on October 7 when militants launched a surprise attack out of Gaza, triggering the war, and abducted another 250 people. Hamas is still believed to be holding some 100 Israelis hostage, as well as the remains of 30 others.