A boy walks with bags of produce as others ride bicycles nearby past destroyed buildings in Gaza City on March 27, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Image Credit: AFP

Hamas has rejected the latest proposal for a deal to return Israeli hostages and Israel will continue to pursue its objectives in Gaza "with full force", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

The statement said that the rejection of the proposals showed that Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, did not want a deal and was trying to exploit tensions with Iran and bring about a regional escalation of the conflict.

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While Mossad, the Israeli external-intelligence agency, didn't directly say the Iran drone and missile strikes on Israel were to blame, it said Hamas's leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, "is continuing to exploit the tension with Iran" and "does not want a humanitarian deal and the return of the hostages."

The statement from Mossad was published by the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel had shown plenty of flexibility in the talks, it said.

They are being brokered by the US, Qatar and Egypt.

The pessimism contrasts with Israeli officials saying last week there had been progress in negotiations for a truce in Gaza that would include the release of hostages held by Hamas and Palestinian prisoners.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said then that the talks had reached a critical point and he "was more optimistic than I was."