A Palestinian woman reacts in front of a house destroyed in an overnight Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 3, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

GAZA STRIP: A senior Hamas official told AFP on Sunday that a ceasefire in Gaza may be secured “within 24 to 48 hours” if Israel accepts the Palestinian group’s demands in ongoing talks.

“If Israel agrees to Hamas demands, which include the return of displaced Palestinians to northern Gaza and increasing humanitarian aid, that would pave the way for a (truce) agreement within the next 24 to 48 hours,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue, as negotiations were set to resume in Cairo.

Meanwhile Al Qahera News reported deelegations from Hamas, Qatar and the United States have arrived in Egypt for "a new round of negotiations" toward a truce in the Gaza war,

Cairo, Doha and Washington have mediated in weeks of talks aiming to pause the fighting in the almost five-months-old war between Israel and Hamas sparked by the October 7 attacks.

Their goal has been to secure a truce by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan next week, but hopes have been dampened by a series of failed talks.

The negotiations have centred on a proposal to pause the fighting for six weeks and for Hamas to free hostages in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, and greater aid deliveries.

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Earlier, the Israeli military said it intensified operations in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, destroying dozens of Hamas targets in a blitz of air and artillery strikes.

The air force and artillery hit about 50 targets within six minutes, it said, in a bid to “intensify operational achievements in the area.”

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“During the strikes, the troops destroyed terrorist infrastructure and eliminated Hamas terrorists who were operating from civilian facilities in urban areas,” it said.

Residents in the area said they were surprised by the swift advancement of Israeli tanks, which sparked fresh battles with Palestinian gunmen.

In one housing project some families took to social media, saying they were unable to leave their homes with the tanks in the streets.

Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said it attacked two tanks with rockets and blew up a building where soldiers had entered.

Khan Younis has been a focus of Israel’s military offensive in recent weeks.