'Not interested': Biden says a Gaza truce is near; Hamas begs to differ

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Editor's Note: This page is a summary of news on the Israel-Hamas war for Tuesday, Feb. 27. For the latest news on the conflict in the Middle East, view our live updates file on the war for Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Hamas officials on Tuesday appeared skeptical about the ongoing hostage negotiations in statements that came after President Joe Biden said he hoped a deal would be reached within the next week before the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Biden, speaking with reporters on Monday night, said: "My national security adviser tells me that we’re close. ... My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a cease-fire."

The latest deal being proposed was put together by U.S., Qatari and Egyptian mediators in Paris last weekend and includes the release of up to 40 women and older hostages as well as the release of up to 300 Palestinians, mostly children, women and older people being held in Israeli prisons, The Associated Press reported.

But Ahmad Abdul Hadi, Hamas' representative in Lebanon, said Tuesday that the militant group is not satisfied with the current proposal, according to the Pan-Arab TV channel Al Mayadeen.

"(Hamas) is not interested in any concessions that do not lead to a complete and total cessation of the aggression against our people," he told Al Mayadeen, adding: "We are not interested in engaging with what’s been floated, because it does not fulfill our demands."

Basem Naim, a Hamas spokesman, told the New York Times that Hamas has not received "any new proposals" since mediators met in Paris.

The U.S. is sensitive to the spiritual importance of Ramadan to the Muslim world, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said at a briefing Tuesday. "We want to see this temporary cease-fire in place as soon as possible," he said.

"If we can get the agreement for several weeks, it would take you through Ramadan anyway. The clock that we're worried about is the hostages. We can only assume that they are being held in abhorrent conditions, and that their health is at risk − their lives are at risk − and we want to get them out as soon as possible," he said.

Palestinians look at the rubble of their house which was destroyed in an overnight Israeli airstrike in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Feb. 27, 2024.
Palestinians look at the rubble of their house which was destroyed in an overnight Israeli airstrike in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Feb. 27, 2024.


 A number of infants suffering from serious cases of malnutrition and diarrhea were brought to Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, Palestinian health officials said Tuesday. The U.N. and humanitarian aid groups say tens of thousands of people in northern Gaza have largely been cut off from aid and face the risk of starvation. One in six children under 2 in Gaza are acutely malnourished, the U.N. reported last week.

 Four crew members of a vessel U.S. officials say was carrying Iranian-made missile components, the type of weapons Houthi rebels have used in attacking ships in the Red Sea, are scheduled to appear Tuesday in a federal court. Their ship was searched after the drowning deaths of two Navy SEALs during an operation Jan. 11 off the coast of Somalia.

Israeli troops shot and killed three Palestinian men early Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian health officials.

Several animals at a zoo in Gaza have reportedly died from starvation, according to Al Jazeera, which said the ongoing siege and fighting prevented staff from feeding the animals.

IDF denies 1,000 Hamas SIM cards activated before Oct. 7 attacks

The activation of dozens of Israeli SIM cards by Hamas operatives hours before the Oct. 7 onslaught caught the attention of Israeli intelligence officials but was not deemed a sign of an impending attack, the Israel Defense Forces said.

In a joint statement with the Shin Bet security agency, the IDF denied a Channel 14 report that around 1,000 such SIM cards came online simultaneously at midnight of the fateful day when 1,200 people in Israel were killed and about 250 taken hostage by Hamas-led militants.

The statement called the report “false and far from reality,’’ adding that there had been previous instances of dozens of Israeli SIM cards held by Hamas members getting activated without an attack ensuing.

High-level members of the Israeli military were notified about worrisome indications picked up by intelligence services early in the morning of Oct. 7 “and operative decisions were made accordingly,’’ the statement said.

However, the response was not at a scale that could prevent the largest loss of Jewish lives since the Holocaust.

Israel restores funding to the Palestinian Authority, Yellen says

Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said Tuesday that Israel has agreed to clear revenue to the Palestinian Authority so it can fund basic services and bolster the economy in the West Bank.

Since the start of the war, Israel has been withholding tax revenue it collects on behalf of Palestinians and sends to the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the West Bank.

Yellen, speaking ahead of the G20 finance ministers meeting, said she wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the U.S. also believes work permits for Palestinians must be reinstated and that barriers to commerce in the West Bank should be reduced.

“These actions are vital for the economic well-being of Palestinians and Israelis alike,” Yellen said.

Yellen’s comments came one day after the authority's government resigned, including Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh. The Biden administration has said it wants to see a reformed authority take over leadership of Gaza in a precursor to a unified Palestinian state. Netanyahu has rejected the authority governing Gaza and said Israel needs to have military control of the territory after the war.

Egypt airdrops humanitarian aid in Gaza, state media reports

The Egyptian Air Force has begun dropping food and medical supplies in central and northern Gaza, according to Egyptian state-run media.

Al-Qahera News said the airdrops were conducted Tuesday in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, which carried out four similar drops throughout the besieged enclave a day earlier, according to Al-Mamlaka TV, a Jordanian public news channel.

Forty-five tons of supplies had been dropped as of Tuesday morning and more than 50 tons of aid is being prepared, Al-Qahera said.

UN calls for release of paramedics detained by Israeli forces in Gaza

The United Nations on Tuesday called for the release of two Palestinian medics who were detained after a convoy evacuating patients was stopped by Israeli forces for several hours.

The U.N. aid coordination office said its personnel along with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the World Health Organization put together a convoy to evacuate 24 patients from Al Amal hospital in Khan Younis, including a pregnant woman, a mother and a newborn.

Despite receiving approval from Israeli officials for the convoy, Israeli troops stopped them for several hours, "forced patients and staff out of ambulances and stripped all paramedics of their clothes," the U.N. said. Three paramedics with the PRCS were detained; one was released hours later.

“This is not an isolated incident,'' said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the U.N. aid coordination office. "Aid convoys have come under fire and are systematically denied access to people in need."

Al Amal hospital, where Israel has focused its operations in Khan Younis in recent weeks, has been the site of at least 40 attacks that have killed at least 25 people, the U.N. said. Across Gaza, more than half of hospitals are “partially functioning," WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva. At least 23 hospitals are not functioning at all, Lindmeier said.

Biden says Israel agrees to pause war during Ramadan if deal is reached

Israel has agreed to halt its military offensive in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year begins around March 10, if a hostage deal is reached in the coming days, Biden said.

"Ramadan is coming up and there’s been an agreement by the Israelis that they would not engage in activities during Ramadan as well in order to give us time to get all the hostages out,” Biden said during an appearance on NBC's "Late Night with Seth Meyers" recorded Monday.

The news of a possible cease-fire deal comes as Israel has been prepping for an invasion of Rafah, the southern city in Gaza where over 1 million Palestinians are sheltering. The Israeli military calls the crowded city Hamas' final stronghold.

Netanyahu said over the weekend a hostage deal would only delay the Israeli invasion of Rafah, not stop it. He said once the Rafah operation begins, victory would be just weeks away.

Israel's War Cabinet on Monday was presented with the military's plan for evacuating Rafah before launching the invasion. It's unclear whether the plan has been approved.

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Israel Hamas war live updates: Hamas is not satisfied with proposal