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Israel and Hamas are making progress in cease-fire and hostage-release talks, officials say

By Samy Magdy, Najib Jobain and Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) — Israel and Hamas are making progress toward another cease-fire and hostage-release deal, officials said Tuesday, as negotiations went on and Israel threatened to expand its offensive to Gaza’s southern edge, where some 1.4 million Palestinians have sought refuge.

The talks continued in Egypt a day after Israeli forces rescued two captives in Rafah, the packed southern town along the Egyptian border, in a raid that killed at least 74 Palestinians, according to local health officials, and caused heavy destruction. The operation offered a glimpse of what a full-blown ground advance might look like.

A cease-fire deal, on the other hand, would give people in Gaza a desperately needed respite from the war, now in its fifth month, and offer freedom for at least some of the estimated 100 people still held captive in Gaza. Qatar, the United States and Egypt have sought to broker a deal in the face of starkly disparate positions expressed publicly by both Israel and Hamas.

Israel has made destroying Hamas’ governing and military capabilities and freeing the hostages the main goals of its war, which was launched after thousands of Hamas-led fighters rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking roughly 250 people captive. Tens of thousands of Israelis were displaced from destroyed communities.

Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada and the European Union.

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