IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
Last updated

Israel-Hamas war: CIA chief pushes for Gaza cease-fire deal in Egypt

Biden criticized Israel's plan for a ground invasion of Gaza's southernmost city, Rafah, after a White House meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II.

What we know

  • CIA Director William Burns has arrived in Cairo for talks on a hostage release deal, which would include a temporary cease-fire and a better plan for getting aid into Gaza. David Barnea, director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, will also travel to the Egyptian capital, a senior Israeli official told NBC News. Israel has rejected Hamas' terms for a deal and the official said the Israeli side is not "optimistic" this time around.
  • President Joe Biden discussed the deal with Jordan's King Abdullah II yesterday at the White House, in his first meeting in Washington with an Arab leader since Oct. 7. Both leaders criticized Israel's plan to launch a ground offensive in Gaza's southernmost city, Rafah, where, Biden said, more than a million ''exposed and vulnerable'' displaced people are sheltering.
  • State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said that despite growing tensions between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the U.S. would not withhold millions in military aid to Israel over humanitarian concerns about the Gaza offensive. The Senate passed a $95 billion national security package that includes aid for Israel.
  • More than 28,400 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 68,000 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead.
  • Israeli military officials said at least 224 soldiers have been killed during the ground invasion of Gaza.
  • NBC News’ Raf Sanchez, Molly Hunter and Chantal Da Silva are reporting from the region.

An NBC News camera crew recorded gunfire around the Nasser hospital compound and a warehouse of medical equipment burning after apparent Israel shelling.

2 Al Jazeera journalists injured in Rafah strike, one required leg amputation, outlet says

Al Jazeera correspondent Ismail Abu Omar and his cameraman, Ahmad Matar, were in “serious” condition after they were wounded in a drone strike north of Rafah, the news outlet reported today.

They were taken to a hospital in Khan Younis, where Abu Omar's right leg was amputated. The Qatar-based news agency said that doctors worked to save his left leg but that he suffered significant blood loss from what appeared to be a cut in his femoral artery.

Colleague Hani Mahmoud said Matar and Abu Omar were struck by a drone while working in Miraj.

"They were in the field documenting the living conditions of displaced Palestinian families in that particular area and documenting the horror that they have experienced and lived through in the past 24 hours as massive air strikes targeted major parts of Rafah city, where close to 100 people were killed,” Mahmoud said.

Displaced Gazans leave Rafah fearing more Israeli attacks

Under the threat of a ground invasion by Israeli forces, panicked and already-displaced Palestinians in southern Gaza said today that they were trying to chase relative safety.

In video shot by an NBC News crew team in Rafah, young children disassembled tents, while other displaced Gazans packed rolled-up mattresses and collected jugs of water ahead of their journey out of the refugee camp.

Fayza Abou Wadi, 65, said the intensity of Israeli attacks on Rafah in recent days has left her family so fearful that they've decided to flee even though they don't know where to go.

"We have young ones. We don’t know where to go in the tents, and we are so scared the shells may attack us. This is why we want to leave. We can’t live. There is no safety here," she said.

Wissam Al-Arkan, 37, said he had resorted to loading his family's belongings onto a three-wheeler, despite not knowing their destination.

"The question is, where do people go? We came to Rafah, and now they are threatening to invade it, so where do we go?" he said, referring to an impending ground invasion.

"I brought a tuk tuk truck and started loading our belongings," he added. "Hopefully, we will find safety and be safe from the bombing. We feel hopeless. What do we do?"

'Rising panic' for Gazans as officials meet in Cairo to negotiate hostage and cease-fire deal

CIA Director William Burns and Israel’s Mossad chief, David Barnea, are in Cairo today, negotiating a hostage deal and a six-week cease-fire.

NBC correspondent Molly Hunter joined News' Andrea Mitchell to discuss what a cease-fire could mean for Gazans experiencing a humanitarian crisis in Rafah.

“It is incredibly desperate, Andrea, and there’s this real kind of rising panic, because we watched the split screen play out today in the region,” Hunter said. “You’ve got Bill Burns, the Israeli spy chief, other regional officials, meeting in Cairo to hammer out the final details, hopefully, of this hostage release deal and have a cease-fire."

"In Rafah, no one believes that necessarily the Israeli prime minister will wait to launch that ground incursion until a deal is inked,” she added.

'History will not be kind' to an invasion of Rafah, U.N. humanitarian chief warns

"History will not be kind" if Israel ignores international concerns and invades Rafah, warned Martin Griffiths, the United Nations undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

"More than half of Gaza’s population — well over 1 million people — are crammed in Rafah, staring death in the face: They have little to eat, hardly any access to medical care, nowhere to sleep, nowhere safe to go," Griffiths said in a statement today.

A military operation in the border city, where many displaced Gazans have fled, could amount to a "slaughter" in addition to putting "an already fragile humanitarian operation at death’s door," Griffiths added.

"This war must end," he said.

Injured Palestinians arrive at Kuwait Hospital after Israeli strikes on Feb. 12, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza.
Injured Palestinians arrive at Kuwait Hospital after Israeli strikes Monday in Rafah.Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

U.S. officials and other aid organizations have also expressed concerns over how dangerous military operations in the densely populated area of Rafah would be for civilians. Israeli officials have asked the military to draw up an evacuation plan, but many question where there is left for people to go in the decimated Palestinian enclave.

A spokesperson for the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told NBC News today that it does not participate in forced, nonvoluntary evacuations.

"Civilians must be protected whether they move or stay, and humanitarian relief must be allowed for civilians in need whether they move or stay," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "The essential needs — such as shelter, nutrition, health and water — of displaced people must be met."

Palestinian American teen who was killed had been attending high school in the West Bank, his father says

JERUSALEM — Mohammad Ahmed Mohammad Khdour, a 17-year-old Palestinian American who was killed Saturday by Israeli forces, was living in the occupied West Bank while he attended high school, his father told NBC News.

Ahmed Khdour flew to the region from his home in Miami after learning of his son's death, the second Palestinian American teenager to be fatally shot in the West Bank in the last month. Khdour told NBC News that to his knowledge his son was having a picnic with his friends in Bidu, a Palestinian town northwest of Jerusalem.

He was told by people who were there at the time that his son and his friends got back in their cars once their picnic was over and started driving away when shots rang out around 4:30 p.m. local time.

Mohammad was shot in the head and died at a hospital in Ramallah, his father said.

The U.S. State Department confirmed today that an American teenager was killed but declined to identify the citizen.

Sen. Van Hollen accuses Israel of 'textbook war crime' in Gaza

Israel is committing a “textbook war crime” by not allowing food and aid to enter Gaza, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said yesterday in a floor speech.

“So now the question is, what will the United States do?” Van Hollen said before calling on President Joe Biden to take action.

Palestinians with children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies in Rafah, southern Gaza,  on Feb. 13, 2024.
Palestinians with children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen today in Rafah.Mohammed Abed / AFP - Getty Images

Troops ‘strengthened’ control of Khan Younis as gun battles rage, IDF says

Israeli troops have “strengthened” control in the western part of Khan Younis, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement today.

The IDF also said that over 30 Hamas fighters had been killed in gun battles and that two Hamas operatives were moving under cover of the civilian population.

An Israeli jet also struck a Hamas squad in the area, it added.

NBC News has not independently verified the claims.

South Africa asks U.N.'s top court to weigh Israel’s Rafah offensive

South Africa asked the International Court of Justice to consider whether Israel’s plan to extend its offensive into Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah requires additional emergency measures to protect Palestinians’ rights.

Last month, the United Nations' top court ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent its troops from committing genocide against Palestinians in the enclave, in a case brought by South Africa.

South Africa's government said it was gravely concerned that Israel’s plan would be in “serious and irreparable breach both of the Genocide Convention and of the Court’s Order of 26 January 2024.”

Israel has denied all allegations of genocide in connection with its war with Hamas and asked the court to reject the case outright. It says it respects international law and has a right to defend itself.

IDF has not submitted Rafah evacuation plan to Israeli government, spokesperson says

TEL AVIV — The Israel Defense Forces have not yet submitted an evacuation plan for Rafah following a public request from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner told NBC News.

"We will write it up and submit it to the authorities, to the government. And if instructed, we will operate in accordance to it," Lerner said. "I think it’s important to stress that throughout this war, we have conducted evacuation efforts from north to south, from within the south, to different areas."

Israeli officials say Rafah is Hamas’ last stronghold inside of the Palestinian enclave.

Aid organizations and U.S. officials have expressed concerns that Israel's military campaign moving into Rafah will risk the lives of more than 1 million civilians. The population of the border city has dramatically increased since Oct. 7, with many forced out of their homes and displaced multiple times by violence as Israel's military campaign worked its way to south Gaza.

When asked whether there is anywhere for these civilians to go, Lerner responded, "where there is a will, there is a way."

"If people want to stay alive, they need to evacuate when they're instructed to evacuate," Lerner said.

9-year-old disabled orphan who fled to southern Gaza dies

A disabled orphan named Iyas was buried yesterday in a southern Gaza cemetery, his body prayed over by his guardian and a gravedigger.

The 9-year-old boy's guardian was videotaped by an NBC News crew carrying Iyas' body wrapped in a white burial shroud from El Najjer hospital in Rafah to a nearby cemetery, where local workers were seen digging a fresh grave.

After slabs of concrete were laid over the body and water was mixed into the fresh earth to seal the tomb, Iyas' guardian quickly prayed for the boy, alongside one gravedigger.

The guardian told NBC News the boy had suffered from a lack of maintenance medication for months and was pronounced dead by hospital staff yesterday.

"He had no treatments over a period of 4 months, treatment is in short supply, because of the siege and the war we’re in," the grieving man said.

"The goodbyes were very hard, separations from the child was very hard on his siblings and his family," he added.

NBC News previously reported that Iyas was blind and suffered debilitating complex needs, including uncontrollable muscle contractions. Before the war, Iyas was living in a home for disabled children in Gaza City but had since been displaced to Rafah.

Before his death, the boy was sheltering with other medically vulnerable children in a garage, and his body was stiffening up because of a lack of medical care.

The guardian said the shortage of medical supplies in Gaza was also endangering Iyas' younger brothers.

"We told the world this boy needs medicine," the guardian said. "He also has little brothers in the same situation. They need medication, there’s no care, there's a medicine shortage because of the war — we don’t know what to do."

Hamas leader met with Iranian foreign minister, group says

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh met today with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian to discuss the situation in Gaza and Iranian efforts "to stop the genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza and support Palestinian rights," Hamas said in a statement.

Haniyeh stressed that Hamas' position is "that any agreement must guarantee a ceasefire, the withdrawal of the occupying army from the Gaza Strip, and the completion of a serious exchange deal."

Iran's state news agency posted a photo of the two men sitting together in Doha, Qatar, and confirmed that Abdollahian met with Haniyeh to discuss the war in Gaza and the need for humanitarian aid in Gaza.

Doctor who braved sniper fire to save man 'happy' he survived

The man had been shot by a sniper who remained hidden somewhere in the distance, but despite that and the gunfire close by, Dr. Ameera Al-Assouli told NBC News she couldn’t stand idly by as the man cried out for help.

After taking a deep breath, she ran to his aid, risking her own life as she crossed the street where the man was hit to join him in a makeshift tent.

“It’s not like he was far away,” she said in an interview yesterday from the ward in Khan Younis’ Nasser Hospital where he was being treated.

“I heard his voice. The people outside, I felt that there was panic, so I went out to see what happened,” she said, adding that she wanted to see whether he could be saved.

Al-Assouli, who retired as obstetrician two years ago, but returned to the hospital to help out after the Israeli military launched its ground invasion on Gaza, was filmed as she took off her coat, ducked down and raced out into the open.

“He’s alive, he’s alive,” she yelled to her colleagues from across the street once she reached him.

She said the man was a journalist with an injured leg who had already attempted to stem the blood flow with a tourniquet when she got to him.

Video of the rescue was widely shared Saturday on social media, but while many hailed her as a hero, she said she was just doing her duty as a doctor.

“As doctors, we are used to it,” she said. “Always in this profession you put your life aside and you save the others. Not that we endanger our lives and we like deaths, no. But we are trained to save others.”

She added that she was “happy” the man had survived.

Hezbollah leader vows to continue fight against Israel until siege in Gaza ends

Hezbollah's longtime leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed that even waging war will not stop the group's fight against Israel at Lebanon's southern border, committing to fight until the siege in Gaza ends.

Speaking today, Nasrallah said Lebanon's political leaders should push to change the conditions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and criticized it for failing to protect Lebanon. The resolution calls for a full end of hostilities at the shared border between Israel and Lebanon.

"When the aggression against Gaza stops, the shooting in the south will stop, and when the shooting stops in Gaza and the Zionist enemy takes any action, we will return to working on the rules and equations that were in place," Nasrallah said. "The resistance’s job is to deter the enemy, and our responses will be proportionate."

Hezbollah is an Iran-backed militant group that rose following Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and has become a prominent political party in the country. The group began firing at northern Israel shortly after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack and Israel's declaration of war, resuming a fight that has largely remained quiet since Israel and Hezbollah went to war in 2006.

International powers have voiced concerns over the conflict at the border and hope to avoid a larger regional war. Israeli leaders have said they are ready to go to war against Hezbollah if international powers fail to get the group to abide by the longstanding U.N. resolution.

Nasrallah accused Western envoys who have tried to deter Hezbollah’s attacks as solely focusing on Israel’s needs. He said the diplomats who have come do not address “any matter related to what is happening in Gaza in terms of aggression, crimes, famine.”

IDF tanks cross the border with Gaza

Tanks crossed the border between southern Israel and northern Gaza today as fierce fighting continues in the southern part of the Palestinian territory.

Israeli Tank Gaza
Ariel Schalit / AP
Israeli Tank Gaza
Ariel Schalit / AP

UNGA president warns ‘another phase of this humanitarian catastrophe is at our doorstep’ 

As Israel escalates its campaign in the southernmost city of Rafah, the United Nations General Assembly President Dennis Francis said, "another phase of this humanitarian catastrophe is at our doorstep."

"I am deeply distressed by the escalating military operation into Rafah," he wrote on X last night, calling on "those with leverage" to help stop Israel's bloody military campaign.

IDF says it has arrested Hamas leader in West Bank

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement today that it had arrested a suspected Hamas leader, Omar Fayed, during a joint operation in the occupied West Bank.

According to the statement, Fayed was part of the Hamas militant infrastructure in Jenin and was recently involved in a number of shootings. NBC News has not independently verified the allegation.

"Two Border Police soldiers were slightly injured by shrapnel and were evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment," the IDF said.

Second American teenager killed in the West Bank in a month

A U.S. citizen was killed in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, the State Department has confirmed.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family,” a department spokesperson said. “We are working to gather more information and have pressed the Government of Israel for further information.”

The State Department declined to identify the citizen, who was a civilian. Defense for Children International Palestine has said Israeli forces shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian American boy Saturday in the occupied West Bank.

“Out of respect to the family, we have nothing further to share,” the State Department said.

Another American teenager, 17-year-old Tawfic Hafeth Abdel Jabbar, was killed in the occupied West Bank last month. The State Department has said they are seeking further information surrounding the circumstances of Jabbar’s death.

Teen says she feared Rafah strikes were start of Israeli ground offensive

TEL AVIV — As Israeli bombs rained down on Rafah early Monday, 17-year-old Rahaf Qudeh said she thought Israel had launched a ground operation on Gaza's southernmost city, where more than half and the enclave's population have taken refuge.

Qudeh, a social media influencer with more than 2.8 million subscribers on YouTube, told NBC News in a phone interview yesterday that she was woken by the sound of nearby blasts.

Rahaf Qudeh pictured in Gaza in March 2023.
Rahaf Qudeh pictured in Gaza in March 2023.Supplied by Rahaf Qudeh

"I told my mom, ‘It’s the tanks. They started the ground operation.’ I was crying. We were screaming,” she said, adding that they “were saying prayers every second so that if we died, you know, we can go to God. To paradise, directly.”

Qudeh said it felt as if the strikes lasted for an hour. In a video she took in the dark of the night, the sound of a helicopter can be heard before a blast rings out.

A screenshot of video’s metadata appears to show it was taken at 1:58 a.m. local time (6:58 p.m. ET Sunday). That was around eight minutes after the time the Israel Defense Forces said aerial fire had been launched.

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said yesterday that the strikes were carried out as part of the effort to rescue two men held hostage in Rafah, Fernando Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70.

Palestinian health authorities said at least 67 people were killed. An NBC News crew on the ground witnessed some of the victims, including children, being brought to the Kuwait Hospital in Rafah.

The IDF said it could not confirm statistics provided by Palestinian health authorities as it does not find them "reliable."

Before the war, Qudeh said she enjoyed posting videos on YouTube about her everyday life. In one of her videos published in August, she took her viewers shopping for school supplies with her. In another, she showed fans her routine during the summer holidays, including working out, enjoying a meal and shopping for clothes and homeware.

After she fled her home in Gaza City in northern Gaza with her family, she has posted videos showing the reality of life on the ground in the Strip.

Kremlin hopeful that Palestinian leader will visit Russia

The Kremlin is hopeful that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Russia, state news agency RIA Novosti reported today, quoting Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

"Abbas has an open invitation. We hope that the visit will take place at a time convenient for both sides,” Paskov was quoted as saying. 

RIA also reported Abbas had planned to come to Russia in November but the trip was postponed.

Gaza death toll rises to 28,473, Health Ministry says

The death toll in Gaza since Oct. 7 has risen to at least 28,473, Gaza's Health Ministry said today in a statement. More than 130 people were killed in the last 24 hours, it added.

Another 68,146 people have been injured in the Israeli military campaign since Hamas launched multipronged attacks on Israel.

However, it is estimated that many more victims are buried under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israel's bombardment in cities across the enclave.

U.S. makes new push for Israel-Hamas hostage and cease-fire deal

JERUSALEM — There is growing fear in the southern Gaza city of Rafah that an Israeli military assault could come before a new cease-fire deal is reached with Hamas. But the IDF has told NBC News that it has not yet presented a plan to evacuate the overcrowded city, while the United States is pushing for an agreement that would lead to a weekslong pause in the fighting.

China urges Israel to stop military operations 'as soon as possible'

HONG KONG — Israel should stop its military operations in the Gaza Strip “as soon as possible,” a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement today.

They added that Beijing was "closely watching the developments" in Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah where Israel has ramped up its military operation in recent days and more than 1 million Palestinians have sought shelter, ahead of a proposed ground invasion.

Israel must "do everything possible to avoid casualties among innocent civilians," the spokesperson said, adding that it should "prevent a more devastating humanitarian disaster in Rafah."

Talks between Israel and Hamas are making progress, officials say

Israel and Hamas are making progress toward a deal that aims to bring about a cease-fire and free hostages held in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, according to two officials with direct knowledge of the talks, as key meetings continue today between the sides in the Egyptian capital.

Talks are moving forward even after Israel intensified its offensive in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, where 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have fled to seek shelter from fighting elsewhere. A brazen Israeli hostage rescue mission freed two captives held in the town along the Egyptian border, a raid that killed at least 74 people, according to local health officials, and left a trail of destruction.

A deal would give people in Gaza a desperately needed respite from the war, now in its fifth month, and offer freedom for at least some of the 100 people still held captive in Gaza. With the war grinding on, efforts mediated by Qatar, the U.S. and Egypt to bring about a deal have been hobbled by the starkly disparate positions of Hamas and Israel.

A senior Egyptian official said mediators had achieved what he described as “relatively significant” progress in the negotiations between Israel and Hamas ahead of today’s meeting in Cairo.

Displaced Gazan families find shelter in a destroyed school

Surrounded by rubble and the burned-out shells of cars, displaced families are sheltering in a school in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Many of the walls are blown out in the building, which lacks essential services.

Senate passes aid package for Ukraine and Israel, but its future is uncertain in the House

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats and Republicans joined together this morning to pass a $95 billion national security package that includes critical aid for three key U.S. allies — Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The vote was 70-29.

It is a significant step forward after months of delays centered on whether tough border security measures would be part of the package. Although Republicans demanded that any bill to authorize aid to Ukraine also address the crisis at the border, they ultimately killed a bipartisan package that married those issues.

The emergency aid bill now faces an uncertain fate in the GOP-controlled House, where conservatives are pressuring Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to block funds for war-torn Ukraine until America’s southern border is secure. Hours before the vote, Johnson made it clear he would not bring the Senate security package to the House floor.

Read the full story here.

U.S. calls on Israel to investigate 'heartbreaking' killing of Hind Rajab

TEL AVIV — The Biden administration has urged Israel to investigate the killing of 6-year-old Hind Rajab, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said yesterday.

“We are devastated about the reports of the death of Hind Rajab,” he said during a news briefing after being asked to comment on Hind’s death. “I will tell you that I have a little girl that’s about to turn 6 myself, and so it is just a devastating account, a heartbreaking account for this child.”

Hind was found dead in Gaza City on Saturday, almost two weeks after she pleaded with an emergency dispatcher for help on an hourslong call that was later released by health officials in the enclave.

The bodies of her aunt, uncle and four cousins were discovered by first responders and members of her family Saturday after they were allowed to search the area where they were last heard from.

The bodies of two first responders, Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al Madhoun, who were deployed to save Hind were found nearby.

Miller said the Biden administration had asked Israel to investigate the incident “on an urgent basis,” adding that the U.S. expects to “see those results on a timely fashion, and they should include accountability measures as appropriate.”

Australia to ban doxxing after pro-Palestinian activists publish information about hundreds of Jewish people

The Australian government said today that it will outlaw doxxing — the malicious release online of personal or identifying information without the subject’s permission — after pro-Palestinian activists published personal details of hundreds of Jewish people in Australia.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the proposed laws, which have yet to be drafted, would involve issuing takedown notices to social media platforms and imposing fines for the intimidation tactic.

The government was responding to Nine Entertainment news reports last week that pro-Palestinian activists had published the names, images, professions and social media accounts of Jewish people working in academia and the creative industries.

Pro-Palestinian activists distributed an almost-900 page transcript that leaked from a private WhatsApp formed last year by Jewish writers, artists, musicians and academics, Nine newspapers reported last week. The transcript was accompanied by a spreadsheet that contained the names and other personal details of almost 600 people, purportedly the group’s membership.

Biden welcomes Jordan's king to Washington

President Joe Biden shakes hands with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at the White House last night.

Image: President Biden Welcomes Jordan's King Abdullah To The White House
Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Ship hit by Houthis was headed to Iran, CENTCOM says

A Greek-owned ship that was hit early yesterday by Yemen's Houthi rebels was headed to Iran, U.S. Central Command said last night in a statement.

The Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel was transiting through the Red Sea and was carrying corn from Brazil, the statement said.

It added that the Iran-backed militant group had fired two missiles from Yemen but the ship reported only minor damage and the crew was not hurt.

Israeli spy chief to attend Cairo hostage talks, source says

TEL AVIV — David Barnea, 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 counterproposal 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 of State 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 hard-line 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 a 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 that his court had jurisdiction over any potential war crimes carried out by Hamas 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.

Israeli Army Gaza
Israeli Army / AFP - Getty Images

Catch up with NBC News’ latest coverage of the war