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Biden discusses Gaza truce effort with Jordan's King Abdullah

Israeli air strike on Rafah leaves over 100 dead

February 13, 2024 00:00:00

People inspect the damage in the rubble of a mosque following Israeli bombardment, in Rafah on Monday — AFP

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (AP/AFP): President Joe Biden is hosting Jordan's King Abdullah II in Washington Monday and the two leaders are expected to discuss the ongoing effort to free hostages held in Gaza, and growing concern over a possible Israeli military operation in the port city of Rafah.

The meeting with King Abdullah II comes as Biden and his aides are working to broker another pause in Israel's war against Hamas in order to send humanitarian aid and supplies into the region and get hostages out. The White House faces growing criticism from Arab-Americans over the administration's continued support for Israel in the face of growing casualties in Gaza.

It appeared a deal for another pause in the fighting was getting close. A senior U.S. administration official said Sunday that after weeks of shuttle diplomacy and phone conversations, a framework was essentially in place for a deal that could see the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for a halt to fighting.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations, acknowledged that gaps remained but declined to specify what they are. The official said Israeli military pressure on Hamas in Khan Younis over the last several week s has helped bring the militant group closer to accepting an agreement.

The death toll from the massive Israeli Defense Forces strike on the city of Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt, has risen to 100, the Lebanese TV channel Al Mayadeen reported.

More than 230 people were injured. Most of the victims of the attack are women and children, the TV channel said.

It was reported earlier that Israeli Air Force planes were carrying out targeted strikes on the Al-Huda and Al-Rahma mosques, where many refugees are located. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported bombing of residential buildings in the surrounding area and the organization's headquarters.

Relative of freed hostage

appeals for Gaza deal

A relative of a hostage freed overnight from Gaza appealed Monday for a broader deal between Israel and Hamas to secure the release of others still held in the Palestinian territory.

A special forces raid in Gaza's southern city of Rafah saw Louis Har, 70, and Fernando Simon Marman, 60, liberated, while around 100 Palestinians were killed in accompanying air strikes, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

Speaking from an Israeli hospital where the two were undergoing medical checks, Har's son-in-law described "a lot of tears, hugs, not many words" when the family was reunited.

"Luckily for us, as a family, they were saved tonight. But I must say that the job is not done," Idan Bejerano told journalists at Sheba hospital near Tel Aviv.

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