The Latest | Biden says Israel offers Hamas a cease-fire and hostage release deal

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday said Israel has offered Hamas a cease-fire and hostage release deal that would unfold over three phases, declaring it was time to end the fighting in Gaza and that Hamas is “no longer capable” of carrying out another large-scale attack on Israel.

In a speech at the White House, the Democratic president said the first phase would last six weeks and would involve a “full and complete cease-fire,” including a withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza. In return, Palestinian militants would release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded. Israel would free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

The second phase would see Israeli forces withdraw from Gaza, and would include the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers, Biden said.

Israeli forces are expanding their offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, once the main hub of humanitarian aid operations. The Israeli invasion has drastically cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies to Palestinians facing widespread hunger. Israel faces growing international criticism for its strategy of systematic destruction in Gaza — at a huge cost in civilian lives — in the nearly 8-month-old war against Hamas.

Israeli bombardments and ground offensives in the besieged territory have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel launched its war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more.


— Biden details a three-phase hostage deal aimed at winding down the Israel-Hamas war

U.S. leaders invite Israel’s Netanyahu to deliver an address to Congress.

— Israel confirms its forces are in central Rafah in an expanding offensive in southern Gaza

— Israel could have used smaller weapons against Hamas to avoid deaths in Gaza tent fire, experts say.

— Houthi rebels say joint U.S.-British airstrikes in Yemen killed at least 16 and wounded 42.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at

Here’s the latest:


JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the government had given negotiators the green light to present a framework for returning all the hostages held in Gaza, in a statement released Friday shortly after U.S. President Joe Biden announced Israel had offered Hamas a cease-fire and hostage release deal.

Netanyahu’s office said the war against Hamas in Gaza wound not end until it achieves all its objectives, “including the return of our hostages and destroying the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas.”

“The exact outline that Israel has proposed, including the conditions for progressing from stage to stage, allow Israel to preserve these principles,” the brief statement said.

Biden on Friday said the proposed three-phase deal would lead to the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza and could end the war, and that Hamas is “no longer capable” of carrying out another large-scale attack on Israel.

Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas to ensure it cannot repeat its Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people and abducting around 250 others. Around 100 hostages are believed to remain in captivity in Gaza along with the bodies of some 30 others.

But Biden acknowledged that keeping the deal on track would be difficult, saying there are a number of “details to negotiate” to move from the first phase to the second.


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Friday said Israel has offered Hamas a cease-fire and hostage release deal that would unfold over three phases.

The Democratic president said the first phase of the proposed deal would would last for six weeks and would include a “full and complete cease-fire,” a withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza and the release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

American hostages would be released at this stage, and remains of hostages who have been killed, would be returned to their families. Humanitarian assistance would surge during the first phase, with 600 trucks being allowed into Gaza each day.

The second phase would include the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers, and Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza.

“And as long as Hamas lives up to its commitments, the temporary cease-fire would become, in the words of the Israeli proposals, ‘the cessation of hostilities permanently,’” Biden said.

The third phase calls for the start of a major reconstruction of Gaza, which faces decades of rebuilding from devastation caused by the war.


JERUSALEM — Hamas released a video Friday featuring the voice of a female Israeli hostage calling on Israelis to rise up against their country’s government and demand they bring captives remaining in the Gaza Strip home.

The hostage whose voice is in the video, Noa Argamani, was abducted from a music festival Oct. 7 when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage. The video of her abduction was among the first to surface, images of her horrified face widely shared — Noa detained between two men on a motorcycle, one arm outstretched and the other held down as she screams “Don’t kill me!”

In the video released by Hamas on Friday, Noa’s voice says, “Let thousands of women and men come out and block the streets of Tel Aviv and do not return home until we return home,” she says. “Save us. Time is running out.” She does not appear in the video.

Argamani’s family made the decision to allow the video to circulate in Israeli media, according to the Hostages Families Forum, a group representing the families of some 130 captives who remain in the strip — a reflection of their growing desperation to get Noa back. Argamani’s mother, Liora Argamani, 61, has stage four brain cancer and hopes to see her daughter alive once more.

The video came a day after another militant group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, released its second video of another hostage, Sasha Troufanov, this week, kidnapped from Nir Oz.

Hamas-led militants killed around 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and abducted around 250 others in the Oct. 7 attack. Around half of those hostages have since been freed, most in swaps for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a weeklong cease-fire in November.


JERUSALEM — Israel says it has killed 18 Hamas militants during the war in Gaza from a unit orchestrating attacks against Israelis in the West Bank, including two men who Israel says it targeted in a recent airstrike that ignited a deadly fire in a camp for displaced Palestinians.

The statement, released Friday by Israel’s Shin Bet internal intelligence agency, said it had also detained nine militants from the cell for questioning. The Shin Bet said the two militants killed in Sunday’s tent camp strike were Yassin Rabia and Khaled al-Najjar.

The statement said many of the militants in the unit were released from Israeli prisons in the occupied West Bank and deported to the Gaza Strip as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal, in which more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were released in exchange for Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was taken from his tank into Gaza in 2006 and held captive for five years.

The agency said the unit was responsible for over 20 shooting attacks that killed and wounded Israelis in the West Bank, including four attacks that killed eight Israelis last year.

Violence in the West Bank has surged throughout the war in Gaza. Israel has been conducting raids into Palestinian cities and towns in the territory to crack down on militancy and the incursions have led to the deaths of more than 500 Palestinians. Most of those killed have been in clashes with the military. But people throwing stones as well as others not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.

Palestinian attacks against Israelis have also been on the rise in the territory.


BEIRUT — An Israeli airstrike in south Lebanon killed Friday a member of the Hezbollah militant group’s paramedic arm and wounded another, the group’s Al-Manar TV reported.

The strike Friday afternoon on the coastal border town of Naqoura came amid a violent day along the border during which Hezbollah attacked Israeli military posts with explosive drones and rockets with heavy warheads while Israel’s air force struck areas on the Lebanese side of the border.

Al-Manar identified the dead member of Hezbollah’s Islamic Health Society as Haidar Juhair adding that his death brings to 10 the number of paramedics with the group who have been killed over the past seven months.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

The Lebanon-Israel border has between witnessing almost daily exchange since a day after the Israel-Hamas war started on Oct. 7.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced on both sides of the border and since Oct. 8, more than 400 people have been killed in Lebanon, most of them fighters, but they also include more than 70 civilians and non-combatants. On the Israeli side, 15 soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed during the same period.


JERUSALEM, Israel — The Israeli military has confirmed that its forces are operating in central parts of Rafah in its expanding offensive in the southern Gaza city.

The military said in a statement Friday that its troops in central Rafah had uncovered Hamas rocket launchers and tunnels and dismantled a weapons storage city of the group.

The statement did not specify where in central Rafah the operations were taking place, but previous statements and witness reports have pointed to raids in the Shaboura refugee camp and other sites near the city center.

More than 1 million Palestinians have fled the city since the assault began, scattering around southern and central Gaza..


TEL AVIV, Israel — In an aggressive meeting Thursday, Israel’s national security adviser told hostage families that the government wasn’t ready to sign a deal to bring all of the hostages home and that there was no plan B.

Gil Dickmann, who’s cousin Carmel is being held hostage, told The Associated Press that during a face-to-face meeting with Tzachi Hanegbi and several hostage families, they were told the government wasn’t prepared to end the war to bring their loved ones back.

“I said: ‘Does that mean that we’re doomed, we’re lost?’ He said, yes,” said Dickmann.

The remarks came a day after the official said he expects the war to drag on for another seven months, in order to destroy the military and governing capabilities of Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group.

Hamas-led militants killed around 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and abducted around 250 others in the Oct. 7 attack. Around half of those hostages have since been freed, most in swaps for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a weeklong cease-fire in November.

After months of on-and-off negotiations, cease-fire talks are at a standstill.

Dickmann said it was the harshest and most difficult meeting with officials since the war began, because it left them hopeless.

At one point in the meeting, Hanegbi lashed out at one of the women who criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling her she was “full of hate”, said Dickmann.

Hanegbi told the hostage families the only way to possibly get the government to sign a deal was through public pressure, said Dickmann. Opinion polls need to show that most Israelis are willing to bring the hostages back at the cost of ending the war, he said.

Israelis are divided into two main camps: those who want the government to put the war on hold and free the hostages, and others who think the hostages are an unfortunate price to pay for eradicating Hamas

Hanegbi’s office didn’t respond to request for comment.

On Friday, a group supporting the hostages accused the government of making a “conscious and deliberate decision to sacrifice” them, forgoing the Israeli principle that it will never leave anyone behind.


TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s army said Friday that it completed its mission in part of the Gaza Strip’s northern city of Jabaliya and will continue operations in other parts of the enclave.

The army said during its operations in eastern Jabaliya that it killed hundreds of fighters, destroyed dozens of targets and combat compounds and located hundreds of weapons.

It also said it destroyed more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) of underground tunnels and retrieved the bodies of seven hostages and returned them to their families in Israel.

Israeli troops returned to Jabaliya and the surrounding areas in northern Gaza in early May, months after an earlier operation. The United Nations said that about 100,000 Palestinians were displaced in northern Gaza following Israel’s evacuation orders.

Northern Gaza was the first target of Israel’s ground offensive launched after Hamas and other militants attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people.

Israeli troops have relaunched attacks in the north as Hamas repeatedly returns to areas that Israel withdraws from.


DEIR AL-BALAH — At least a dozen people were killed, including children, in two airstrikes Friday in Central Gaza, according to hospital officials and Associated Press journalists who counted the bodies.

The strikes hit Nuseirat and Bureij, two children and four women were among those killed and the bodies were brought to the Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

A funeral for all 12 people was held Friday.

Israel’s campaign of bombardment and offensives in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 80,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Its count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Joint British-United States airstrikes targeting Yemen’s Houthi rebels killed at least 16 people and wounded 42 others, the rebels said Friday — the highest publicly acknowledged death toll from the multiple rounds of strikes carried out over the rebels’ attacks on shipping.

The Houthis have stepped up attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, demanding that Israel end the war in Gaza, which has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians there. The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.

Houthis said Friday morning that one of the strikes struck a building housing Hodeida Radio and civilian homes in the port city on the Red Sea. Their Al Masirah satellite news channel aired images of one bloodied man being carried downstairs and others receiving aid in the hospital. It said all the dead and nearly all the wounded from the strikes came from there.

The Houthis described all those killed and hurt in Hodeida as civilians, something The Associated Press couldn’t immediately confirm. The rebel force that’s held Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, since 2014 includes fighters who often are not in uniform.

Other strikes hit outside of Sanaa near its airport and communication equipment in Taiz, the broadcaster said. Little other information was released on those sites — likely signaling that Houthi military sites had been struck. One person was wounded in Sanaa.

The U.S. and the U.K. have launched strikes against the Houthis since January. Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the Houthis’ secretive supreme leader, offered an overall death toll for the strikes up to that point as 40 people killed and 35 others wounded. He did not offer a breakdown between civilian and combatant casualties at the time.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration. This week, they attacked a ship carrying grain to Iran, the rebels’ main benefactor.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up