Israeli spy chief to attend Cairo hostage talks, source says
TEL AVIV — David Barnea, the director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, will attend hostage negotiation talks in Cairo today along with CIA director Bill Burns and other Middle Eastern officials, an Israeli official told NBC News.
It had previously been unclear whether Israel would send a high-level delegation to the talks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week rejected a Hamas counter-proposal that called for an end to the war as “delusional.”
“We’re going to Cairo to see if there’s a chance to get a deal but I can’t tell you anyone on the Israeli side is optimistic,” the official said.
The last high-level talks took place in late January in Paris. The CIA director and officials from Qatar, Israel, and Egypt were present but no representatives from Hamas were at the table. That meeting led to a framework agreement that proposed a temporary pause in the fighting in return for the release of some hostages.
Hamas responded to that framework last week during Secretary Antony Blinken’s trip to the Middle East. In its response, the militant group called for an end to the war and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza.
“We thought there was a formula, not a binding agreement, but a formula that was agreed in Paris,” the Israeli official said. “Then what Hamas sent back was just a revision of some hardline positions and totally divorced from what was negotiated in Paris.”
ICC prosecutor ‘deeply concerned’ by situation in Gaza’s Rafah
THE HAGUE — International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan said he was deeply concerned about reports of bombardment and potential ground incursion by Israeli forces in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.
Khan posted on X after airstrikes in the city that is the last refuge of about a million displaced civilians.
He said that the court was “actively investigating any crimes allegedly committed” in Gaza and that “those who are in breach of the law will be held accountable.”
He later told Reuters that half of the population of Gaza is concentrated around Rafah, “reportedly six times its normal concentration.”
“When you have a population that is 60% children and women by all accounts, the risks to civilians are profound,” he said.
“This situation is one that I give the utmost priority to. It’s an issue that we’re moving forward on.”
Israel is not a member of the Hague-based court and does not recognize its jurisdiction. But Khan said in October his court had jurisdiction over any potential war crimes carried out by Hamas Palestinian militants in Israel and by Israelis in the Gaza Strip.
IDF troops during operations in Gaza
An image released by the Israeli Army today shows troops during ground operations at an undisclosed location in Gaza.