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WATCH: Hamas says Gaza truce deal ‘close’ and 200 patients evacuated from hospital

This picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing following an Israeli strike on the Palestinian territory on November 21, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

This picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing following an Israeli strike on the Palestinian territory on November 21, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

Published Nov 21, 2023

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Jerusalem - Fighting raged Tuesday in Gaza, more than six weeks after an unprecedented Hamas attack sparked an air and ground offensive by Israel, which has vowed to destroy the Palestinian militants.

In Gaza, more than 13,300 people, at least 5,600 of them children, have been killed in the war, officials in the Hamas-run territory said.

About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel during the October 7 attack and around 240 taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Here are five key developments from the past 24 hours:

Hamas says Gaza truce deal ‘close’

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday a temporary truce agreement with Israel was in sight, raising hopes that dozens of people taken hostage could be released.

"We are close to reaching a deal on a truce," Haniyeh said, according to a statement sent by his office to AFP.

Under the agreement, between 50 and 100 Israeli civilian and foreign hostages would be released, but no military personnel.

This picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing following an Israeli strike on the Palestinian territory on November 21, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

In exchange, some 300 Palestinians would be freed from Israeli jails, among them women and minors.

There was no immediate response from Israel.

On Monday, US President Joe Biden said he believed a deal was close, as the International Committee of the Red Cross said its president had travelled to Qatar to meet the Hamas leader.

Netanyahu vows no letup

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed there would be no letup in the army's offensive in Gaza, again pledging to crush Hamas and ensure the hostages are released.

"We will not stop fighting until we bring our hostages home," Netanyahu declared after meeting relatives of those abducted.

Families expressed frustration after the meeting.

"We wanted to hear about a deal and that return of the abductees is a priority among the war objectives. We didn't hear that," said Udi Goren, whose cousin Tal Haimi is among the hostages,

Palestinians prepare traditional unleavened bread in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on November 21, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Gaza City telecom blackout

The Hamas government press office said there was a communications blackout in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip after an Israeli strike hit the telecoms towers.

Hospital evacuation

Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said 200 patients were evacuated from a hospital with the help of the Red Cross just hours after it was hit by a deadly Israeli strike.

Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP 200 people were evacuated from the Indonesian hospital in Jabalia and taken to Nasser hospital in the southern city of Khan Yunis.

This picture taken from the border with the Gaza Strip shows a national flag on the Israeli side as smoke billows during an Israeli strike on the Palestinian territory on November 21, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

"The Israeli army is laying siege to the Indonesian hospital," he said.

"We fear the same thing will happen there as it did in Al-Shifa," he added, referring to the largest hospital in Gaza which Israeli troops have raided and been searching since Wednesday.

Babies arrive in Egypt

The World Health Organization said 28 premature babies evacuated from Al-Shifa hospital had been taken to safety in Egypt through the Rafah crossing.

"All babies are fighting serious infections and continue needing health care," the UN agency said.

AFP