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Hamas ‘no longer capable’ of another major attack against Israel, says Biden

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US president Joe Biden on Friday detailed a three-phase deal proposed by Israel to Hamas militants that he says would lead to the release of remaining hostages in Gaza and could end the grinding, nearly eight-month-old war.

Mr Biden said Hamas is “no longer capable” of carrying out another large-scale attack on Israel, as he urged Israelis and Hamas to come to a deal to release remaining hostages for an extended ceasefire.

Speaking from the White House, he called the proposal “a road map to an enduring ceasefire and the release of all hostages”.

Mr Biden said the first phase of the proposed deal would last for six weeks and would include a “full and complete ceasefire”, 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 the 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 ceasefire would become, in the words of the Israeli proposals, ‘the cessation of hostilities permanently’,” Mr 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.

Mr Biden’s remarks came as the Israeli military confirmed that its forces are now operating in central parts of Rafah in its expanding offensive in the southern Gaza city.

Mr Biden called it “a truly decisive moment”.

He added that Hamas said it wants a ceasefire and that an Israeli-phased deal is an opportunity to prove “whether they really mean it”.

Israel launched its war in Gaza after Hamas’ October 7th attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted about 250.

Israel says about 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of about 30 more.

Ceasefire talks ground to a halt at the beginning of the month after a major push by the US and other mediators to secure a deal, in hopes of averting a planned Israeli invasion of the southern city of Rafah.

The talks were stymied by a central sticking point: Hamas demands guarantees that the war will end and Israeli troops will withdraw from Gaza completely in return for a release of all the hostages, a demand Israel rejects.

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